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How Will 49ers' Vernon Davis Transition to Receiver?

When Vernon Davis’ name is brought up in conversation, one of the first things you’re bound to hear is how unfair it is for defensive backs to draw his assignment. Followed shortly thereafter by he’s miscast as a tight end.

Both assertions are for the most part true. A fact that circumstance has forced into the head of Jim Harbaugh following the possibly season ending injury to wide receiver Michael Crabtree. Apparently.

As per this report from, Vernon Davis spent the entirety of his time at the 49ers most recent series of minicamps lined up on the outside as a receiver.

For as long as Davis has been with the 49ers he’s been one of, if not, their best option in the passing game. He was first in receiving yards on the club twice from 2009-10 and has finished second in the two years since. That being said, there’s more than a few reasons to be optimistic about how well Davis’ switch to wide receiver will turn out.

Physically, Davis has all the tools to succeed. Of all the tight ends and wide receivers in his draft class of 2006 only three finished with a better 40 yard dash time than Davis’ 4.38. He also has the prototypical height at 6’3, but would be best served by shedding some pounds off his 254 lb. frame.

While Davis’ size and ability to use it as a means of creating separation from defenders make him a tantalizing prospect at receiver, he doesn’t have it all physically. For starters, he’s not incredibly agile and fluid in his movements; at least by wideout standards. This is evidenced by his seven second three cone drill time in his draft year, which was good enough for 16th among receivers and tight ends. Of course, that was seven years ago, but it’s all we have in the way of evaluating his raw physical abilities.

No matter what my, or anyone else’s, opinion of the positional switch is matters not. It’s all speculation at this point, really. That being said, stats and combine info can paint a good picture as to why the switch isn’t all that unreasonable and set a barometer for where expectations should be.

You can follow J.D. Burke: @JDBurkeOV


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