Vernon Davis is looking for redemption in 2015, and new 49ers tight ends coach Tony Sparano believes he's fully capable of it.
Sparano, a former NFL head coach, who spent last year as the Raiders' interim head coach, was blown away by the athletic specimen Davis still is at age 31.
“I’d like to drink from the same fountain as Vernon drinks from because he’s not a 31-year-old athlete,” Sparano said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. “This guy takes care of his body, he can really run, he’s athletic and still very, very explosive."
Davis turned in the worst performance of his career last season, catching just 26 balls for 245 yards and two touchdowns in 14 starts.
If you erase a booming Week 1 performance against the Cowboys, the 49ers tight end finishes with 21 grabs, 201 yards and no touchdowns. He did not break 50 receiving yards in any game in the 2014 campaign.
"For me, what’s neat is I don’t have any knowledge of what happened in the past. When I came in here, it was a blank slate,” Sparano said. “I think the common interest we have is he wants to continue to get better and he knows that I’m going to push him to do that."
One of Davis' best seasons was in 2013, just a year prior to his worst, when the tight end registered 850 yards (third-most in his career) and 13 touchdowns, which tied for a career-high.
Sparano has ideas for how Davis can get back to the kinda of production.
“When I was with Bill Parcells he would always say, ‘When I had so and so. When I did this with [Mark] Bavaro.’ Those are good things to draw from. I can do the same thing with Vernon in those situations. It’s been very healthy and I think he gets a lot out of it . . . I think it’s gone really well — just having Vernon here the whole offseason. The daily interactions, the meetings, him learning what I want and me learning how he does things has been really valuable. I’m excited about his season.”
Sparano returns to his roots with the 49ers, which is focusing on the tight ends. He was the tight ends coach for Washington in 2001, Jacksonville in 2002 and Dallas in 2003-04. Sparano also worked as an offensive line/run-game specialist for the Cowboys for two years from 2005-06, which is relevant given the blocking duties of the TE position.