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October 9, 2008
Martz, Davis differ on whether tight end has been productive

The expectation heading into the season was that Mike Martz's offense was going to be a boon for every skill player on the team. So far it has, with one notable exception. Through five games, tight end Vernon Davis has five catches for 87 yards. Through his first five games last season in Jim Hostler's stodgy offense that couldn't do anything right, he had 18 catches for 176 yards. Last year Davis complained - and Mike Nolan listened - that he was being kept in to block more than he was being sent out to catch passes. Today Davis said he's doing even more pass blocking than he did a year ago. "Yeah - big time," he said. "I never did pass protection as much as I did as I'm doing now." Is that a surprise? "A little bit. I didn't expect it. I definitely didn't expect it."

Which begs the question whether Davis, who is being sent on a number of deep routes, is being used correctly. Mike Martz today defended that use.

"Vernon runs like any receiver does. That being said, to run those routes from the tight end position - that's not an easy thing to do for a big man ... But we're making progress there. I'm excited about where he is right now."

Martz pointed to the second play of Sunday's game, an intermediate pass that went off Delanie Walker's hands and that would have been a huge gain, as evidence of Davis' contribution:

"Did you see how wide open he was? They were all running with Vernon. ... There were three guys chasing Vernon down the field. If we had completed that, (Walker) may have been in San Diego before he stopped. ... So even though he may not be getting the ball, he is a huge factor in what we do. ... The numbers - I think you've got to be real careful with the numbers with anybody. If somebody's getting real big numbers every week, that's not necessarily a good thing. That means you have to rely on that one individual to win and that's not always a good thing."

Q: But is there a sense that Davis is starting to get antsy with his production?
MM: Is this a serious question?
Q: Yeah - he has five catches in five games.
MM: I have no idea what he has. I don't think about those things to be honest with you. I'm sure anyone with five catches - I don't care who you are - is probably not satisfied. It's not the point, though, probably, is it? We're just trying to win. His time will come

Martz may not think about receptions, but Davis certainly does. "I want to help out as much as I can as far as catching passes. That's what I'm here to do - make plays. That's what I want to do. I guess there's really nothing you can do if you've got two or three guys running with you. The only thing you probably can do is come up with different ways to give me the ball or something like that."

******************
Last week, Patriots coach Bill Belichick noted that Martz was using Davis like he onced used Ernie Conwell in St. Louis. Martz today agreed with that assessment, although he said that Davis has more speed with Conwell and because of that speed was being sent on more deep patterns. Conwell's best season came in 2001 when he had 38 catches, 431 receiving yards and four TDs.

*****************
Evidently, Davis is not a newspaper reader. Asked about Nolan's quote from Monday in which he said Davis did two out of three things well -- pass and run block -- but needed to perfect his rout running, Davis said he hadn't heard that assessment.

"I didn't hear that. I don't know what to say about that one. I don't know what to say about that one. Like I said, every route I run, I run a correct route. I mean, if I don't then I'm pretty sure someone would say something about it."

-- Matt Barrows



MATTHEW BARROWS

Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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