clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

NFC West position rankings 2015: Can Vernon Davis keep 49ers relevant at tight end?

New, comments

Vernon Davis could be good next season ... or he could be like he was in 2014.

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Seahawks are the top team in the NFC West. There, I said it. It's out there. For those of you in denial of this, I can only offer my condolences and my jealousy, but I felt like I needed to say it as I continue these NFC West position rankings. I think, at the end of the day, the San Francisco 49ers will be good next season, and I think they have a hugely talented roster. But in most of these position rankings, the Seahawks will be favored.

Seattle was at the top when it comes to safeties and running back, though the former category was close and the latter probably won't remain that way for long. Today, I've decided we're going to take a look at the tight end position. It's one the 49ers would have taken this season, even with their struggles last season, had the Seahawks not made a certain significant trade.

That trade has put them on the top, while the 49ers are once again coming in second place. Let's get right into the ranking, shall we?

Seattle Seahawks with Jimmy Graham, Luke Willson, Anthony McCoy, RaShaun Allen, Cooper Helfet

Let's be clear here: the Seahawks are on top because they have arguably the best tight end in the league in Jimmy Graham. The New Orleans Saints believe that Drew Brees makes their offense function, and didn't value a guy like Graham as much as a team like the Seahawks can and will. Graham is easily the best receiver on the Seahawks, and one of the top receiving options in the league.

He's the kind of guy who will go up and get the football, and he should be Russell Wilson's best friend when it's all said and done. There was a time when Vernon Davis was right there with Graham but that time has definitely passed. Behind Graham, there's Luke Willson, who managed 362 yards and three touchdowns last season, and Anthony McCoy.

I was surprised the Seahawks re-signed McCoy given the fact that he's missed far more games than he's played since he came into the league, but I always liked his potential. I just have no faith he'll actually make his way onto the field and if he does, I doubt he'll stay there for long.

San Francisco 49ers with Vernon Davis, Vance McDonald, Derek Carrier, Garrett Celek, Asante Cleveland, Xavier Grimble, Blake Bell, Rory Anderson

San Francisco is in a weird place when it comes to the tight end position. There are times when I feel like the team is putting way too much faith in Vernon Davis and Vance McDonald, and others when I feel like they really do feel strongly about guys like Derek Carrier and Garrett Celek. It's hard to tell for sure, but I personally don't see much coming from Carrier or Celek in the near future.

McDonald is an interesting player. He has all the tools, but thus far has done absolutely nothing with them and aside for a few strong run blocking plays, he's been mostly absent. I think this is McDonald's last chance to really show something, but he'll be the No. 2 guy for sure. Blake Bell and Rory Anderson are both interesting prospects, but they're both question marks.

Then there's Davis. He has his worst-ever season last year, playing in 14 games, catching just 26 passes for 245 yards and two touchdowns. Most folks will tell you Davis played poorly because he was injured, and I certainly hope that's the case. Because Davis is a dynamic receiver and an excellent blocker, and if he plays to his potential, the 49ers are in good shape.

St. Louis Rams with Jared Cook, Lance Kendricks, Alex Bayer, Cory Harkey, Brad Smelley, Justice Cunningham

I expected the Rams to be in much better shape at the position than they were last season, but Jared Cook was underwhelming in his time. He caught 52 of the 98 passes thrown his way for 634 yards and three touchdowns. Cook still has a lot of potential though, and seeing him out-gain a depleted Vernon Davis next season wouldn't be the most surprising thing.

Lance Kendricks is the primary backup, and he caught 27 receptions for 259 yards and five touchdowns last season. He's an effective red zone option, but ultimately I don't think he offers anything that the 49ers backups don't, and so I can't really put the Rams above the 49ers at this stage. Davis has shown more and was beat up last season, while Cook played 16 games with an iffy quarterback throwing him the ball. These two teams could easily switch places this season.

Arizona Cardinals with Darren Fells, Ted Bolser, Gerald Christian, Ifeanyi Momah, Troy Niklas, Gannon Sinclair

I really don't see much to be excited about for the Cardinals. Their projected starter, Darren ells, caught five passes for 71 yards last season. The Cardinals didn't make any effort to improve the position in free agency or the NFL Draft and I seriously question whether or not they'll get anything from the position in 2015.

They had John Carlson, and he was serviceable but he called it a career this offseason. Troy Niklas seems to have the highest ceiling of all the tight ends, but he has dealt with injuries off and on. Ifeanyi Momah is a guy the Cardinals coaching staff is pretty high on, but I honestly don't see much there. I don't think any of the tight ends on Arizona's roster will be anything special, and I see the team investing in the position more next offseason.