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49ers Eager to Unleash Weapons

Posted Jul 29, 2012

The “Vernon Post” seems like it happened some time ago. Not to the 49ers Faithful, but to Vernon Davis, the athletically-gifted tight end who caught a game-deciding 14-yard touchdown pass from Alex Smith to give San Francisco a Divisional Playoff win over the New Orleans Saints.

Davis and teammate Patrick Willis recently accepted the 2012 ESPY Award win in the “Best Game” category, but Davis, the dominant run-blocker and vertical passing threat hasn’t been too caught up on the experience of making one of the most memorable catches in franchise history.

“It seems like a long time ago,” the 49ers tight end said on Sunday, hours before the first day of padded-practices of training camp.

When you consider the impressive haul of talent the 49ers added to the offense this offseason (signing Randy Moss, Mario Manningham and Brandon Jacobs to go along with promising draft picks like A.J. Jenkins and LaMichael James), it’s no surprise why the 6-foot-3, 250-pounder wants to move on and embrace his team’s positive outlook for 2012.

Davis wants to see how his new-look teammates perform. So does play-caller Greg Roman. The 49ers offensive coordinator has the unenviable task of dividing reps on a 49ers offense that features five No. 1 wide receivers according to coach Jim Harbaugh, and, one of the deepest running back groups led by Pro Bowler Frank Gore.

“Adding those guys on our team it definitely adds different dimensions to things,” Roman said about this year’s well-publicized additions to a passing game that finished 29th in the NFL, averaging 183.1 yards per game. “We’ll evaluate it as we go. It’s exciting.”

The roles will be determined on the football field, the old-fashioned way according to the coordinator entering his second season in San Francisco.

“You’re coaching everybody to be successful,” Roman explained. “You roll the ball out and let it unfold. It doesn’t have to be rocket science.”

Roman recognizes the additions to his perimeter unit have a great deal of speed. James, the team’s second-round pick, possesses that ability as well. In order to maximize those talents, Roman will continue calling plays to emphasize the strength of his players. As evidenced by his creative use of personnel and formations in 2011, Roman will surely give opposing defenses plenty to game plan for this coming season.

For now, Roman will need to see the literal strength of his players with pads entering the practice equation.

“Everybody reveals themselves on the field because of contact,” Roman said.

In the case of Jenkins and the team’s other wideouts, beating press coverage in pads is something that hasn’t been worked on this offseason due to the rules in the new collective bargaining agreement. All that changes when the pads go on. Instead of using press-shadow coverage like the first two days of camp, the wideouts will have to beat the jam of opposing cornerbacks at the line of scrimmage.

“You expect to see (tempo) ramping up,” Harbaugh said. “Today you get to put the armor on that’s a tremendous feeling for a football player.”

Linemen aren’t the only ones looking forward to the contact; beating press coverage is important to receivers ascending up the depth chart.

Harbaugh visited with the media to downplay reports of Jenkins struggling with the physical side of the game.

“A.J. Jenkins was an outstanding football player when he got here. His progress has been very, very good, and exceeded expectations,” the 49ers coach said.

Finding the best way to utilize the new weapons remains key for the 49ers offense, but just because so many playmakers have been added doesn’t mean the 49ers are predicting a sixth World Championship in franchise history.

Team leaders like Davis are continuing to carry out the day-by-day approach, consistently preached by Harbaugh.

“We don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves,” Davis said. “We’re not worried about the Super Bowl because what we do today will set us up for tomorrow.”

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