In honor of the run-up to the London Olympics, NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah has begun to put together a series of articles that attempt to look at each positional group and assign Gold, Silver, and Bronze for the best individual players. It's no surprise that he's listed New England's Rob Gronkowski as the Gold medalist and Jimmy Graham as the recipient of the Silver - Gronk set an all-time record for most touchdowns by a tight end with 17 last season, and Graham had 99 catches - third overall in the NFL. Very tough to argue against those selections, but the third place, Bronze finish was a little tougher. Ultimately, he landed on San Francisco 49ers TE Vernon Davis. Jeremiah explains after the jump...
There were several excellent candidates for this final spot. Veterans like Jason Witten, Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates continue to perform at a high level while the league is loaded with athletic youngsters at the position like Aaron Hernandez, Brandon Pettigrew and Jermichael Finley. However, several of the coaches and executives I spoke with voiced very strong support for Vernon Davis. His numbers might trail some of the other superstars' but he is a more dynamic and explosive threat in the passing game. During the 49ers' postseason run, he caught 10 balls for 292 yards and four touchdowns, and averaged 29.2 yards per catch (!). If Davis had the luxury of playing in a pass-first offense with a top-tier quarterback, he would post numbers similar to those accumulated by Gronkowski and Graham.
I would agree that Davis' postseason performance solidifies him at this spot despite the gaudy numbers some of his competitors might have - his game-winning touchdown to seal the deal against the Saints in the playoffs was one of the most memorable moments in the entire season, for any fan.
For more on the 49ers, head over to Niners Nation.