Is Vernon Davis the next 49er to get paid?

Last week, it was linebacker Patrick Willis who cashed in with a five-year, $50-million extension out in San Fran, as the NFP's Andrew Brandt detailed. Young talent, impact talent, wrapped up and taken care of by the Niners.

Now, it looks like Vernon Davis could be next. According to Matt Maiocco of Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, the Niners and the 26-year-old tight end have begun talks on a new deal. After the Willis deal, the club may have to get creative — as Maicco points out — but the opportunity is there.

I had no issue with the Willis extension, as I wrote last week. A productive player — one who was originally drafted by the club. Take care of those guys and reward that production with some new coin.

Can we say the same about Davis who is asking for close to $25-million guaranteed according to reports?

I think we can, despite having only one breakout season in ’09 in which he hauled in 78 receptions for 965 yards and 13TDs. Enormous numbers from the tight end position. We all know about his struggles under former offensive coordinator Mike Martz, the sideline incident with head coach Mike Singletary and the idea that he was somewhat of an underachieving player who went in the top 10 of the draft.

But production talks, and just as we discussed with Willis, this is a young team that needs to lock up its playmakers.

Davis competes at tight end, he’s starting to develop a reputation as a complete player at the position, and when you really look at this Niners offense -– and how it’s being built under Singletary — it shouldn’t even be a question when we talk money and contract with Davis. The type of player that can win vs. Cover 2 and matchup against any SS in the league vs. Cover 1.

WR Michael Crabtree was very impressive last season for a rookie coming off a massive holdout, and I do believe he can continue to develop into one of the top young receivers in the NFL. But when I think of the Niners offensively, I look up front, at the running game and the tight end position. The ability to throw the ball vertically down the middle of the field. The play action and the opportunities to align Davis as a WR — away from the core of the formation — where he can continue to be a playmaker.

It’s easy to dispute paying a player after basically one year of production in this league. We’ve all seen guys who take the money and then vanish from the box score the next season.

However, Davis is too important to this team — as is Willis — to miss an opportunity to lock him up. I expect this franchise to start winning next season, but to do that, you need the players.

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