The 49ers have found ways to win in 2012 without arguably their best weapon in the passing game: Vernon Davis. But what good is such a weapon if you can't find SOME way to use him?
There have been plenty of times in the past few years that we've all thanked God that Vernon Davis is on this football team. Games where he seems to be the only weapon on offense, often scoring multiple touchdowns or long gains when the rest of the offense seems so anemic.
Last season he was the 49ers offense in the NFC Championship game, scoring two long touchdowns when 49ers wide receivers failed to make a single reception until late in the fourth quarter. A week earlier he was essentially the reason the 49ers even got to the NFC Championship, making huge catches for big gains and touchdowns to defeat the New Orleans Saints in a blow-for-blow game that went down to the wire.
So where the heck has he been lately?
Davis is trying to say all the right things, citing how defenses are scheming to "take him away", often double-teaming or rolling a safety over the top of his routes. He's also done a helluva job as a blocker despite not seeing much action in the passing game of late.
But the bottom line is that Greg Roman has to find a way to get Vernon Davis open and the football in his hands. What I don't want to see is forcing the ball to Davis when he's not open...but with a mad scientist like Roman, there has to be ways to get the big guy involved in the passing game.
Davis has always been a sort of "wubby" for Alex Smith, a security blanket. Smith would throw the seam route to Davis when he was well covered because he knew the latter would make the catch and if he did, it could be off-to-the-races.
Alex has struggled to find his groove lately, for a number of reasons, and a return to productivity from Davis could be just what the Doctor ordered. I hope that Roman and Harbaugh are just playing "rope-a-dope" with Davis at this point. Making defenses think, "You got us. You win. You took him out of the equation, so we'll just throw it elsewhere."
If that's the case, it could set-up a few huge games from Davis as opponents feel like they have a clear blueprint to stop him...only to find out that Roman was playing cat-and-mouse with them the whole time. One such example is the play where Davis is tight in-line and blocks for a half-second then releases on a wheel route up the field. That play needs to return, and perhaps this week is the time.
Davis had zero catches in last week's game against the Seattle Seahawks, making his two-game total a mere 37 yards receiving. He's gone four games without a touchdown after starting out averaging a touchdown per game over the first four weeks.
In 2011 there wasn't a single game where Davis was held without a catch, averaging over 4 receptions per contest. In terms of touchdowns, Davis was streaky last year as well, though. He had several three-game stretches without a score in 2011, so maybe this is a sign that he's poised to break-out soon.
While most of us believe that the offense should go through Frank Gore and the run-game, there's no denying that one of it's most potent weapons can't simply languish in the background repeatedly.