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Morning Tailgate: Davis, TE or WR


It's become the hot topic of 49ers training camp – where will Vernon Davis line up in 2013.

The tight end-wide receiver debate is even a sensitive subject for San Francisco's veterans. When Joe Staley was asked about Davis potentially transitioning from an inline tight end to a wide receiver for the 49ers, the All-Pro linebacker immediately had a big smile on his face before the reporter even finished asking the question.

"If I told you that, I'd feel like I'd be giving you too much," Willis said, failing to hide an ear-to-ear grin. "You just have to wait and see. I'm sure they have something special for him and I'm eager to see it myself… that's all I can give you."

So far in camp, Davis has maintained his tight end responsibilities. He lined up in the slot one time at Tuesday's camp session, but never as a wide receiver. Davis works with the tight ends during individual periods, but also tends to finish the period of practice by running routes with the wide receivers.

At 245 pounds, Davis is suited to use his speed against linebackers and safeties. He beat Willis and first-team free safety C.J. Spillman for a 50-yard touchdown by using his uncommon speed for the tight end position.

Davis has maintained a team-first attitude this offseason and didn't shy away when asked about the possibility of lining up on the perimeter full-time.

"I'm willing to step up and do whatever they ask me to do, and they've been having me work with the wide receivers, pretty much all over the place," the eighth-year pro said.

Davis will surely be moved around the offense more frequently, which Willis alluded to, but having him strictly as a wide receiver would take away the talents of one of the best blocking tight ends in the NFL.

Not only could Davis contribute as a perimeter pass-catcher, he would probably be an elite offensive tackle if he had bad eating habits and could put on the necessary weight. Too bad Davis likes drinking kale protein shakes.

So, that's not happening any time soon. As a tight end, Davis is entering the "prime of his career," according to his head coach Jim Harbaugh.

The 49ers starting tight end will continue to evolve as a chess piece in Greg Roman's offense. San Francisco's creative play-caller has been working with Davis for more than two seasons now and is surely tapped into everything the tight end does well.

Going downfield remains one of the many strengths of Davis' game. According to Doug Clawson of ESPN Stats & Information, via Mike Sando of, when Davis is able to line up on the slot or outside the yard-line numbers, Davis is averaging 19.0 yards per reception, the best among tight ends over the past regular seasons and playoffs.

Davis' position debate will likely continue into camp now that the team had two wideouts, A.J. Jenkins and Kassim Osgood, unable to finish the most recent camp practice.

It makes for good conversation, but the reality of Davis future assignments for the 49ers offense remain to be seen.

Just like Willis said, "You just have to wait and see."

More 49ers camp notes can be found in today's Morning Tailgate.

Eric Branch of the  San Francisco Chronicle noted the roster moves the 49ers made at inside linebacker.

Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News monitored the injuries hampering the 49ers wideouts.

Jimmy Durkin of the San Jose Mercury News looked at Ian Williams closing in on a starting job.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee shared his practice notes from Tuesday's session.

Matt Maiocco of looked at Jenkins' practice absence.

Clark Judge of shared the confident comments of safety Donte Whitner. looked at Colin Kaepernick's 50-yard touchdown pass in greater detail.




Shout out to Percy Harvin! Get well soon bro. Never wanna see anybody get hurt! #Niners! — TWHITNER (@DonteWhitner) July 31, 2013

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