San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis met with the media during minicamp last week, and he had some interesting comments about tight end performances last season. Davis had two touchdowns in the 49ers Week 1 win over the Dallas Cowboys, but more or less disappeared much of the rest of the season. He had a chance last week to talk about those issues.
"Whenever I'd run, like, my deep over routes, there was a safety sitting over there already," Davis said. "It was just game planning. And nothing really ever opened up. But I wasn't really ever a factor in the offense last year. ... The first game, yeah. But the second game, the tight ends (weren't) really involved as a whole."
Davis dealt with a few injuries this year. He had an ankle and knee issue in Weeks 3 and 4, causing him to miss Week 3. He then had a back injury in Weeks 5-7, causing him to miss Week 5. He said the injury did not impact him later in the year.
I always thought the injuries did have impact, but it is certainly possible game-planning problems impacted the tight ends. The entire group dealt with injuries, with Vance McDonald, Garrett Celek and Derek Carrier all missing extensive time. Maybe the team adjusted the game plan because the group was limited?
I cannot say anything for certain, but we do know the tight ends have been relatively healthy (Derek Carrier dealing with a foot issue), and Vernon Davis was reportedly looking good throughout the offseason workout program. It was only in shorts, so we take it with the usual grain of salt, but I'll still have at least a little optimism. The team brought in a deep threat in Torrey Smith, as well as Reggie Bush who could potentially stretch things from the backfield. But if Vernon Davis can be anything close to what he was before 2014, that would bode exceedingly well for the 49ers.
In the comments linked above, he also expresses a lot of excitement about tight ends coach Tony Sparano. He indicated Sparano was similar to Pete Hoener, who is a guy Davis has credited for a lot of his success. Davis can be effusive in praise (see A.J. Jenkins), so we'll see if Sparano can indeed get something out of the tight ends this year.