The 2013 season is a wrap for the San Francisco 49ers, but before we take the deep dive into free agency and look ahead to 2014, we're going to take an initial look at that season that was for each position group. We've been making our way through the offensive skill position players, and today we wrap that up with tight ends.
Vernon Davis - 15 games | 52 receptions, 852 yards, 13 touchdowns | DYAR: 198 (3rd) DVOA: 29.2% (3rd) | PFF: 8.6, 6.2 passing, 0.1 pass block, -0.1 run block, 1.4 penalty
The 49ers starting tight end remained a key component of the team's offensive attack in 2013. He missed Week 3's game against the Colts with a hamstring injury, and suffered a concussion Week 10 against the Panthers, but did not miss the following week. Although Anquan Boldin emerged as a go-to guy for Colin Kaepernick, Vernon's absence against the Colts was rather noticeable. His numbers can be up and down at times, but his blocking and ability to draw double-teams can be so huge for this team.
Davis reached the end zone 13 times this season, equaling his career best from 2009. What's even crazier about that is he became the first tight end in NFL history to record two seasons with 12+ touchdowns. I could see Jimmy Graham matching that feat at some point, but Vernon will always be the first. Additionally, in spite of his PFF grades, I think his blocking remained solid in 2013. I'm going to go back and check out his blocking work a bit more to see where PFF was getting a middle of the road grade.
2014 status: Signed through 2015 | Base: $4,700,000; Cap: $7,342,916
Vance McDonald - 15 games | 8 receptions, 119 yards | PFF: -6.1, -5.3 passing, -0.1 pass block, -2.4 run block, 1.2 penalty
This season was quite the learning experience for the 49ers late second round pick. He flashed some of his talent over the course of the year, but from a pass catching perspective, it just wasn't there. Kap did not look his way particularly often, and as the year wore on, he spent a lot more timing in a blocking role. When Bruce Miller went down, the team even mixed McDonald into the fullback role at one point.
When the season wrapped up, McDonald discussed his role, and was not surprised he spent more time blocking than catching passes.
"I definitely kind of got the vibe of what we wanted to establish as an offense," McDonald said. "We wanted to be a definite run team. We wanted to establish the line of scrimmage. And we had the players to do it and the offensive line to do it. We had the running backs to do it. It was a big focus. So I definitely wasn't surprised."
If you are a PFF grades type of person, they rated him positively in Weeks 14, 16, 17 and the Wild Card round. He finished with negative grades in the final two playoff games. Take that however you want, but obviously there is still a lot for him to do this offseason.
2014 status: Signed through 2016 | Base: $518,599; Cap: $817,995
Garrett Celek - 12 games | 2 receptions, 38 yards | PFF: -4.2, -1.5 passing, -0.9 pass block, -0.9 run block, -0.4 penalty
It was a pretty low key season for Garrett Celek, as he once again remained the third tight end when the 49ers went into some heavier sets. He has one more year on his contract, but I have to think the 49ers bring in some competition at tight end. I could see an undrafted free agent, or maybe a late pick. They use their tight ends a lot, and when we saw Vernon Davis and Vance McDonald lost to injury, the team seemed to scuffle mightily.
2014 status: Final year of his contract | Base: $570,000; Cap: $572,000
Derek Carrier: 7 games (9 PS games)
He got some limited opportunities when Garrett Celek was hurt, but otherwise he was not a big part of the picture. He played wide receiver at one point before converting over to tight end. He'll get a chance to compete with Celek in training camp.
2014 status: Signed through 2015 | Base: $495,000; Cap: $495,000