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Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Vernon Davis has company in NFC West

By Mike Sando

Matt from Toronto asks whether the NFC West has the best group of tight ends in the NFL.

Mike Sando: I'll need to take a closer look as time permits. It's tough envisioning one division having a more capable group, however.

Davis
Davis
The San Francisco 49ers' Vernon Davis is looking like a perennial Pro Bowl type. Delanie Walker plays extensively for the 49ers and could see his production spike under new coach Jim Harbaugh. Third tight end Nate Byham was emerging as one of the better blocking tight ends in the NFL before suffering a season-ending knee injury recently.

Seattle added a Pro Bowl tight end when signing Zach Miller from Oakland. The Seahawks already had John Carlson, who caught two touchdown passes against New Orleans in the playoffs last season. Carlson's production had been in retreat before then. Miller's addition calls into question Carlson's future with the team. For now, though, he's another starting-caliber tight end. Backup Cameron Morrah emerged as a receiving threat for Seattle on occasion last season.

The Arizona Cardinals used a 2011 third-round pick for tight end Rob Housler before using free agency to sign Todd Heap and Jeff King. They still have Stephen Spach. Housler appears as though he'll need some time to develop, but the Cardinals like his talent. Heap is 31 years old, so the Cardinals are catching him on the back side of his career. But he still caught 10 passes in a playoff game last season.

The St. Louis Rams used a 2011 second-round pick for tight end Lance Kendricks. They still have Mike Hoomanawanui, who showed promise as a rookie last season. Injuries were a concern for him. They still have Billy Bajema as well. The Rams plan to play Kendricks extensively, and early reports from training camp appear positive.

Sounds like something for me to speak to Davis about following 49ers practice, which is under way.