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Will The Disease run rampant in 2008?

First off, a quick note for those of you who are relatively new to the site, or simply have no idea what I mean when I say "The Disease."  I personally don't like the idea of calling Vernon Davis VD for what I hope are obvious reasons.  After taking some suggestions, the most accepted nickname option was "The Disease."  Not great, but it seems to be doing ok for now.  Alternatives are always welcome, but for now, Vernon Davis is The Disease.

I also realized I had utilized no pictures of Vernon Davis and found one that seems fitting.  The man is a physical specimen who is bigger and faster than many defenders.  The problem many folks seem to have is when he tries stretching receptions a few extra yards and either fumbling the ball or just wasting energy.  That is part of the reason for this post.  After Mike Martz was hired, discussion began about two separate topics.  The first topic: Whether the 49ers try and make a play for a receiver either through free agency, trades or the draft.  The second topic: what Martz could do with Davis in the upcoming season.  I actually think the second topic very well could and should be the answer to the first topic.

In his two seasons with the 49ers, Vernon Davis has overwhelmed and underwhelmed, showing the inconsistency of a youngster.  At the same time, we ALL can agree that he has the potential to be as good a tight end as there is in the league.  The Disease was compared to Antonio Gates among others coming out of college and I honestly think he has the potential to be better than Gates.  Try and name another tight end with his combination of speed and strength and I think you'll be up for quite a while pondering.  At the same time, Davis has not broken through as the all-around receiving threat that he could be.

So the question to ask is whether he'll make that step this coming season or continue in his relative funk?  Wide receivers in the NFL seem to take 2-3 season to really get going and while Davis is a tight end, he performs the role of wide receiver quite a bit.  So maybe, this is the year the breakout happens.

In many ways I'm an optimist and I think Davis can take the next step and become the all-around playmaker the 49ers have been looking for since TO left the building.  If The Disease can step up, wouldn't you agree that the 49ers receiving issues would not be all that bad anymore?  If Davis's production meets his potential, suddenly the 49ers receiving corp would be looking pretty good.  An improved Davis combined with DJack, Battle, Hill, Walker, Gilmore and Lelie is suddenly looking rather solid.

If you don't think Davis can make the leap to the next level then you're probably thinking I'm a little crazy.  I still would like to see the 49ers grab a young receiver in the draft at some point (although not in the first round).  However, I think the answer to our receiving woes is right in front of us.