49ers TE Vernon Davis had the worst season of his career last year, when he missed two games because of injury and caught only two touchdown passes. Both scores came in a Week 1 win over Dallas. The downfield catches that had been a staple of his career all but vanished as well. After averaging more than 16 yards a catch in 2013, he averaged a career-low 9.4 yards last year. His longest catch last season – 29 yards – also was the most modest “long” of his nine-year career.
“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.”
After tinkering with multiple wide receiver sets throughout last season, the 49ers are returning to more traditional looks this year. There will be an emphasis on the running game. And tight ends again will have a major role.
Davis is a talent, but the team didn't do a good job of using him last season. His 50 targets were his fewest since 2008, and his usage was way too low considering he has finished in the top 8 at his position in four of the last six seasons. He was targeted just once in the red zone after seeing 20 red zone targets in 2013. It's up to new OC Geep Chryst (formerly the team's QB coach) to get Davis more involved in the offense. Davis has reportedly looked fast in offseason activities. Given his 15th-round ADP, he's a very cheap lottery ticket at the tight end position.