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After a strange offseason, during which he forfeited a $200,000 workout bonus and kept the mystery going whether he would report to training camp on time, 49ers tight end Vernon Davis opened the season in grand fashion.
Davis caught two touchdown passes in the first quarter of the first game. But after the 49ers’ season-opening victory against the Dallas Cowboys, Davis has gone silent.
That topic leads off this edition of 49ers Mailbag:
Why has Vernon had such a small impact this year? (Steve Roop)
Davis had injuries early in the season that limited him. First, he sustained an ankle sprain that knocked him out for a game-and-a-half. Then, a back injury kept him out for the same period of time.
But Davis has been healthy for a while, and yet he has still not produced. Davis caught just one pass last week for 8 yards against the New Orleans Saints. And that was very interesting, too.
After that reception, Davis did not tuck the ball away in the midst of Saints defenders. Brandon Lloyd made mention of Davis’ apparent lack of ball security, and Davis took offense to it. The game broadcast showed Davis yelling back at Lloyd and ordering him to get off the field as a new personnel grouping entered the huddle.
But Davis has not shown a lot of fire that has helped the 49ers this season. He has so many outside interests, it’s fair to wonder if he spreads himself too thin in the offseason.
Also, Colin Kaepernick has tried to get the outside receivers involved. Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree and Stevie Johnson get a lot of attention. That has not left much for the tight ends –- Davis, Vance McDonald and Derek Carrier.
When you look at ways the 49ers’ offense can improve in the final seven games, it appears obvious. They need to get Davis back on track, in general, and certainly as a red-zone threat.
How far can a team go with so many injuries? (Taylor Savinon)
The 49ers were believed to have one of the deepest rosters in the NFL when the season began, and they have proven it through nine games.
Patrick Willis, Daniel Kilgore, Kendall Hunter and Chris Cook are out for the season. Glenn Dorsey missed the first nine games due to injury. Aldon Smith and missed nine games while on a league-imposed suspension. There’s no guarantee NaVorro Bowman will be back this season.
Tramaine Brock has missed most of the season with a toe injury, and he’s out for a couple weeks with a hamstring strain. Ian Williams (leg) and Jimmie Ward (foot) are candidates to head to injured reserve with injuries they sustained against the Saints last week.
That said, the 49ers still have a fair share of talent -– enough to get into the playoffs and make a deep run. But it will not be easy. The thing to remember is that all teams deal with injuries. The Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks are not immune, either.
In the past week, quarterback Carson Palmer sustained a season-ending knee injury for the Cardinals, and the Seahawks lost outstanding defensive lineman Brandon Mebane.
With this defense doing so well, do you think Vic Fangio's contract will be extended? (Christopher George Ilejay)
Fangio, who has worked wonders with the 49ers’ banged-up defense, is signed through the 2015 season. Coach Jim Harbaugh and general manager Trent Baalke gave him a raise after last season. There is a budget in place for the assistant coaches, and Harbaugh works with Baalke to determine how to allocate the money.
Fangio is a valued member of the team’s coaching staff. But it remains to be seen what happens with the coaching staff after this season. When there’s uncertainty with the head coach, there’s also going to be uncertainty with all of the assistants.