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Vernon Davis, 49ers TEs Pose Challenge for Bucs

Posted Dec 12, 2013

Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano said Davis "may be the only one walking the planet" of his kind.

Greg Schiano was not the Buccaneers coach the last time Vernon Davis and the 49ers played against Tampa Bay, in Oct. 2011.

But Schiano wouldn’t be surprised to know that Davis scored two touchdowns in that most recent matchup.

“It doesn’t matter what personnel group they’re in with Vernon Davis; this guy is a sub-4.40 (second 40-yard dash) tight end,” Schiano told reporters on Thursday. “He may be the only one walking the planet.”

Exhibits A, B and C are rookie Vance McDonald and reserves Garrett Celek and Derek Carrier. San Francisco’s other three tight ends are not “burners.”

And they’re not trying to be.

Consider that Davis just needs one more touchdown, perhaps another come Sunday in Florida, to become the only tight end in NFL history to record two, separate dozen-or-more-scores seasons.

McDonald, Celek and Carrier all have less than two years of experience. But they’re still able pass-catchers and run-blockers.

As was the case in Week 14, it’s unlikely that all four ends will be active on gameday. But here are some news and notes about these important contributors.

VANCE MCDONALD

The team’s second-round pick is now its fifth leading receiver, with eight catches spanning 119 yards so far during his rookie campaign.

“His opportunities will come (in the passing game). It's an area that he will be very productive in as his career goes on,” offensive coordinator Greg Roman said Wednesday. “A lot of the things that Delanie (Walker) did (in 2012), Vance does. Some new stuff, some stuff we didn't do with Delanie but a little bit more specific to his skill-set.”

GARRETT CELEK

Celek was healthy enough to practice last week while recovering from a hamstring issue but was deemed inactive on Sunday.

“He's coming off his injury and no sense rushing him back,” Roman said of Celek, who last caught a 30-yard pass in Week 3. “We like what we see with Derek Carrier as well. It's a competitive situation.”

DEREK CARRIER

After learning the tight end position with the Philadelphia Eagles, whose practice squad he joined for the 2012 season, Carrier said he’s still making strides.

“Here, it’s a lot more packages, different spots to line up,” the former small-school wideout said.

Carrier remains in search of his first NFL reception, but he played the majority of the team’s snaps in Week 13 against the St. Louis Rams.

“You’re always hoping to get that first catch, but whenever it happens, it happens, and I’ll be ready for it,” Carrier said recently. “Pretty much with any game, I prepare as if I’m starting. Obviously that’s not my role, but that’s how I going to prepare.”

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