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Davis Enters ‘Prime of his Career’

Posted Jul 28, 2013

Jim Harbaugh noted that Davis is entering the “prime of his career.”


Vernon Davis wants to keep playing as long as he has his speed. Good thing it doesn't appear to be going anywhere any time soon.

When asked to ponder his longevity in the NFL, the 49ers tight end stressed that he’s only focused on winning a ring and not putting up eye-popping statistics or earning Pro Bowl selections.

“In my younger days I played for stats,” Davis said on Sunday.

The perspective has completely changed for the eighth-year veteran.

“It’s all about that ring, that’s what I’m here for, to help these guys get the ring.”

Davis has been “looking really good” at 49ers training camp, according to Jim Harbaugh.

The 6-foot-3 tight end said he’s been playing at 245 pounds the past four seasons and it’s helped him become even faster. The 49ers coach also has noticed the change in his tight end.

“I see a lot of improvement in his ability as a football player with route-running,” Harbaugh said. “He looks a little leaner, too.”

Davis, too, feels quicker and lighter on his feet when running downfield.

The tight end’s productive offseason bodes well for the 49ers as they look to replace the production of leading wideout Michael Crabtree. With Crabtree out nursing a torn Achilles, Davis has been arguably the top target for starting quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Harbaugh has been pleased with how Kaepernick has improved in all aspects of his game, including his anticipation when throwing downfield. The 49ers coach singled out one of Kaepernick’s deep balls to rookie tight end Vance McDonald from Saturday's camp session as a prime example.

“It was just the perfect amount of loft and perfect location,” Harbaugh said. “That one got me fired up, that was the best one right there.”

Kaepernick launched a few more deep balls to his tight ends; Davis caught a pair of 30-yard passes on deep corner routes.

[ PHOTOS - TRAINING CAMP: JULY 28 ]

“He’s gotten a lot better,” Davis said of his quarterback's touch throws. “You have to keep in mind, we had minicamp and OTAs, we had an opportunity to get some things to get corrected and get our timing where it needed to be.

“In training camp, it’s even better.”

In camp, the tight end and quarterback connection has really been apparent.

“We have a great relationship, we’re putting it all out there and we’re working in training camp,” Davis said. “That’s what training camp is all about. It’s about developing that relationship, that’s what we’re doing here.”

Davis noted that the on-field chemistry wasn’t perfect when Kaepernick took over San Francisco’s starting job last year, but it’s certainly improved in the first full offseason they’ve worked together with the first-team offense.

“We’ve come a long way since last year,” Davis said. “It takes time to get that connection and to develop something special.”

Without Crabtree seeing the bulk of Kaepernick’s passes to start the season, Davis is a reasonable choice to become a go-to player for the 49ers passing game.

Davis caught 41 passes in 2012, the lowest number of receptions he’s posted since 2008. The standout tight end remains one of the best tight ends in team history and is poised if called on to continue adding to his impressive production in 2013.

Davis ranks first in 49ers history among tight ends with 40 touchdowns and is second in team history behind Brent Jones with 345 receptions and 4,351 receiving yards.

The stats, however, don’t matter to Davis as much as wins.

“I’m here to contribute, I’m just a piece of the puzzle,” Davis said when asked about filling in for Crabtree’s production. “I’m not here for statistics, I’m not here for the Pro Bowl.”

Harbaugh noted that Davis is in the “prime of his career.”

That being said, the 49ers tight end has easily been the prime receiver of 49ers camp.

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