49ers Mailbag: Time to unleash Davis?

49ers Mailbag: Time to unleash Davis?
January 18, 2013, 9:30 am
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Poised for a breakout? Vernon Davis has seven catches in the past seven games for just 105 yards. (AP)

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In the postseason a year ago, it was the Vernon Davis Show.

Davis was all over the place. He was the only semblance of a threat in the 49ers' passing game, as Michael Crabtree was rendered silent.

This season, and for most of last week's NFC playoff game against the Green Bay Packers, the roles have been reversed. Crabtree and Colin Kaepernick have provided the 49ers with a big-time combination.

Davis has been quiet.

So that's the backdrop, as we open the 49ers Mailbag with the 49ers' NFC Championship Game against the Atlanta Falcons set to kick off at noon on Sunday.

Do you think they unleash Vernon Davis in this game? (Ramzy Munir Haddadin)
After the victory over the Packers, 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman pointed out that the 49ers like to keep their ace card hidden until they need it.

This would appear to be the time for Davis to emerge.

After all, the Falcons had a difficult time with the tight end a week ago. Seattle's Zach Miller was targeted nine times and caught eight passes for 142 yards and a touchdown.

"They just didn't watch him," Davis said Thursday of Miller, speaking to national and local reporters that circled him five-deep. "He did a nice job of getting open."

Being surrounded might have been a familiar feeling for Davis. After he had a big game in Kaepernick's first start, Davis has averaged one reception a game. That works out to seven catches in the past seven games for just 105 yards.

Said Davis, "When a new quarterback comes in you have to learn from him, adapt to him and start all over. That's what we've been doing, but it's been good because we've been winning."

Q: With Cowboy breaking down, who do you see replacing him? Draft, free agency, or do you think he will last a couple more years? (Myles Latimer)
What? The Cowboy is breaking down? I'm not sure one injury to defensive tackle Justin Smith can be considered as proof he is "breaking down."

That said, yes, I believe the 49ers can use more depth on the defensive line. That spot is definitely a position that could be addressed within the first couple days of the draft.

Smith is signed through the 2013 season. He'll turn 35 early in the 2014 season, so it's definitely time to build depth and make plans for when he's no longer around.

Will A.J. Jenkins be a part of this offense? (Mario Quiñonez)
What is holding Jenkins back from seeing more snaps at WR? (Matt Polverari)
Jenkins did not catch a pass through the regular season and one playoff game. He is a non-factor in the offense. So I can't imagine he'd have much of an impact now. He played just seven snaps last week against the Packers.

Thus far, he has seen only one pass thrown his way while appearing in four games. He dropped it.

Why is the first-round draft pick not seeing more snaps? It's quite simple. The coaching staff believes the offense is better when Randy Moss, Delanie Walker and Ted Ginn are on the field ahead of him.

Nobody thought Jenkins would make an impact as a rookie when the 49ers drafted him. But you'd at least think with season-ending injuries to Mario Manningham and Kyle Williams, Jenkins at some point would make a contribution.

I'm not going to make some wide-sweeping pronouncement on Jenkins and his future as an NFL player. He has talent. But, thus far, we haven't seen it.

If the 49ers win this years Super Bowl… What are the chances of Randy Moss resigning or will he just retire? (Mario Contreras)
Moss will turn 36 next month. The one thing his career lacks is a Super Bowl. Moss has not said much this season. But I'd think a Super Bowl would be a nice way for him to end his career.

It would seem this is his last chance. He clearly is nowhere near the old Randy Moss. He had only 26 receptions in 16 games of the regular season, though his 15.6 average was still very good.

Moss is serving his purpose with the 49ers. He has been great in the locker room, and after injuries to Manningham and Williams, he has been the clear No. 2 receiver. But the Moss-like numbers have not been there, and it's reasonable to think at this point in his career that his production will continue to follow that downward path.

Manningham and Williams will come back from their knee injuries, and the 49ers hope Jenkins takes a significant step next season. So where does that leave Moss?

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