During the 2013 season, the 49ers were a different team when TE Vernon Davis was heavily involved in the offense.
In the six games Davis was targeted six times or more, he caught 30 passes for 577 yards and seven touchdowns. San Francisco went 6-0 in those contests, and averaged just under 32 points.
In the nine games Davis was targeted less than six times, the team went 6-3 and averaged 23 points. They also lost the only game Davis did not appear, as they couldn’t manage more than a touchdown in what was a 27-7 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
When you consider how important Davis is to the 49ers’ offense, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the unit struggled for most of 2014, as their normally all-world tight-end suffered through the worst season of his career.
Everything started out status quo for Davis and the Niners in a Week 1 win against the Dallas Cowboys. He caught four passes on six targets for 44 yards and two touchdowns. The following week however, Davis would get hurt against the Chicago Bears and battle back and leg injuries for the rest of the season. While he was in the lineup for 14 of 16 games, he never looked like himself.
Davis set career lows in yards (245), yards per reception (9.4) and touchdowns (2). In turn, the 49ers’ offense was never in sync without their big play threat. The team only scored 301 points (19.1 per game) all season, and was held to under 20 in seven of their last 10 games.
While Davis looked like he’d lost a step, it’s fair to assume that the injuries played a large role in his steep decline. If healthy, there’s a strong chance he could be in for a bounce back year in 2015.
The 49ers seem to be in the same line of thinking, as they could have saved themselves nearly $8 million in cap space by cutting Davis this offseason. Instead, they will let their star tight end play out the last year of his contract in an effort to get him back on track.
Davis also appears to be looking forward to putting the frustrations of 2014 behind him, and let the world know his support of new head coach, Jim Tomsula.
Me: coach, let me know when practice starts, I’m there ASAP! Tomsula: I love you Vernon Me: thx Coach, I love you too pic.twitter.com/CEnnvC8yLi
— Vernon Davis (@VernonDavis85) January 15, 2015
Regardless of what happens in the near future, the 49ers and their fans have seen the best and worst of Davis over the years, and the good memories will far outweigh the bad. Let’s just hope Davis has a few more memorable moments left under his belt before his days in red and gold come to a close.