Vernon Davis at WR? What we need to know

July, 29, 2013
7/29/13
12:30
PM ET
San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis indicated Sunday he's getting reps at wide receiver.

This means ... what? Let's walk through this.

Defenses must set their personnel before they know where offensive skill players will line up in the formation. If they see Davis in the 49ers' huddle, for example, they know they have to contend with an exceptionally fast tight end. They also know Davis might line up where wide receivers line up, but they cannot treat him the way they would treat a 195-pound wideout. They will see a tight end when they see Davis, and they will plan accordingly.

We should expect Davis' receiving stats to swell this season in the absence of injured primary receiver Michael Crabtree. Davis appeared to be gaining momentum as a receiver last season before Crabtree was injured. Davis had six catches for 104 yards in the Super Bowl. He had five catches for 106 yards in the NFC title game. Crabtree also had 11 receptions over those two games, but Davis had a 210-166 advantage in yardage.

The 49ers like to use multiple tight ends and running backs to facilitate their running game. They will not want to abandon that identity by turning Davis into a wideout, even if they do decide to split him wide more frequently.

The chart from ESPN Stats & Information shows Davis' 2012 regular-season and postseason stats when Colin Kaepernick was the quarterback, broken out by where Davis aligned at the snap. He didn't line up on the perimeter much.

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