Will It Be A Comeback Year For Vernon Davis?

Let's flash back to Sept. 7th, 2014. It’s Week 1 of the NFL season, and the San Francisco 49ers have just defeated the Dallas Cowboys by a final score of 28-17. 49ers tight end Vernon Davis has finished the game with a respectable four receptions for 44 yards. Of the receptions, two of the catches went for touchdowns. 

But after Week 1, the rest of the season for Davis was a complete disappointment. Davis would not see the end zone, nor have a game with over 40 yards receiving for the remainder of the season.

Standing at 6'3", weighing 250 pounds and running a 4.38 forty-yard dash at the NFL combine, Vernon Davis is one of the most talented tight ends in the league. From his rookie year in 2006 through 2013, Davis had a very respectable career, with averages of 50 catches, 650 yards and nearly seven touchdowns per year. Despite the solid and consistent career numbers, Davis took a massive plunge last year.

In 2014, Davis had career lows in almost every receiving category, compiling a dreadful 26 receptions for 245 yards and only two touchdowns. Davis went from being top-10 in yards and second in touchdowns among tight ends in 2013 to ranking 36th in yards and tied for 30th in touchdowns in 2014. This all leads to the burning question: what happened last year with Vernon Davis?             

Simply put, the 2014 NFL season was full of distractions for Vernon Davis. Davis, unhappy with his contract last year, held himself out of off-season workouts hoping to have his contract restructured before the season started. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Davis reported that he was “inspired by an advisor” to restructure his contract, and stated that he was doing “something just so [he] could get paid." 

However, Davis’ holdout did not last for an extended period of time, and in the end his contract was not restructured. To add to the contract dispute, Davis also promoted his relationship with Fantex Inc., which advertises itself as some kind of “athlete stock exchange.” Both the contract dispute, and promoting his affiliation with Fantex, led people to wonder if Davis truly had a commitment to the team, or if he was just in it for the money.

In addition to the questioning of his commitment to the team, Davis dealt with multiple injuries last year and even missed two games due to those injuries. Although Davis did state that his injuries were not the main source for his low receiving numbers, Davis did acknowledge that he had played injured for most of the year, with nagging injuries to his back and ankle.

But all this leads to the next big question: will Vernon Davis have a bounce back year for the 49ers?            

The answer is yes. It is hard to imagine that Vernon Davis will have another poor year for the 49ers considering that his career numbers suggest otherwise. Davis eliminated most of his distractions from a year ago, and since last year, Davis reportedly fired his adviser who told him to go after the money and has since gone back to what matters to him most, football. Vernon Davis reported to every 49ers offseason workout this year, and in his interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Davis stated that money no longer represents who he is as a person or player. “I don’t do anything for money. I don’t let money represent me. That’s just not me,” he said.

Money might not be his main motivator, but Davis is in the last year of his contract which means he has to prove that being 31 years old isn’t going to slow him down, and he seems poised to do just that. Thus far, coaches and teammates have given Davis praise and adulation for his focus, and seem excited to have him back to his old form. 

Although the regular has not started, it seems obvious that Vernon Davis is less determined about making money, and more determined to actually make plays this year for the 49ers. If you think that Vernon Davis is going to have another lackluster season, you just might be disappointed.

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