And so do the rest of us. It’s a brave new world out there in San Fransisco, one in which offense is possible again.
We’ll have a more thorough overall reflection on what exactly we witnessed Monday night a little later on this morning, but first let’s focus solely on one man. One glorious, magnificent man who took Colin Kaepernick out for at least five steak dinners last night.
During the 49ers’ 32-7 win over the Bears, Vernon Davis had 83 yards and a touchdown on eight receptions. Normally, you’d look at those single-game numbers with indifference, because those are the kind of numbers you’d expect from one of the game’s top tight ends at least if we’re looking at sheer talent. If you own Davis, you spent a mid-round pick on him, yet even after last night’s outburst Davis’ overall numbers are still worse than Greg Olson’s, the Panthers tight end who could be found far further down the draft board, and he even went undrafted in some leagues. Davis currently has 487 receiving yards and five touchdowns, while Olsen has 539 yards and three touchdowns.
But of course this fantasy game we play isn’t rooted in cumulative stats. They matter, and they matter a lot, but week-to-week production has more value since we’re trying to win weekly matchups. And sadly, Davis’ weekly production with Alex Smith as his quarterback has at best been on par with someone like Olsen. Again even when we include last night’s game in which he had 14 fantasy points and he scored for the first time since Week 3, Davis is still averaging only 48.7 receiving yards per game to Olsen’s 53.9. What’s even more alarming is that in nearly half of his games prior to last night (four), Davis had fewer than 40 receiving yards with no touchdowns.
That’s putrid output of less than four fantasy points, and it’s awful draft value. It had led to widespread concern from his owners, with both Smith’s inconsistencies and the introduction of Mario Manningham and Randy Moss blamed. Last week when I spoke to Mike Clay from Pro Football Focus Fantasy during our weekly Five Questions post, he leaned towards the latter, noting Davis’ severely decreased targets this year:
Last season, Davis maintained fantasy relevance because he saw such a massive chunk of the targets (22 percent) and receiving scores (45 percent). This season, however, the 49ers added Mario Manningham and Randy Moss to the mix, which has taken away the need to rely on Davis so heavily. Through 10 weeks, he’s seen only 16 percent of the targets and scored 31 percent of the receiving touchdowns. That may not seem like much of a drop, but it most certainly is for a guy who was already a middle-of-the-pack TE1. Add to the pot the fact that he hasn’t scored since Week 3, and there are serious red flags.
Last night was, well, one night, and one night only. So while you’re encouraged to maintain a sense of calm and keep in mind everything I’ve mentioned about Davis’ possible decline despite the rise of Kaepernick — his savior — I know that’s not possible. You urinated yourself several times while watching Davis become the centerpiece of the Niners’ offense again. And if peeing your pants is cool, consider me Miles Davis.
Those 83 yards he finished with compare rather favorably with Davis’ previous four games, a stretch that encompasses a quarter of the season in which he had only 101 receiving yards, including one game when he had zero catches, zero targets, and zero anything. And about those targets: Davis had eight of them last night as Kaepernick focus on him often, leaning on the veteran during his first start. Over that four-game spiral he had 11 targets, and the result of his higher volume of work last night was his longest catch since Week 5 (a 32 yarder).
Davis said he felt like someone took his handcuffs off. We know the feeling, Vernon. With Jim Harbaugh strongly hinting that the starting job will at least temporarily be Kaepernick’s regardless of Smith’s health because he’ll “ride the hot hand,” the odds of Davis’ hand temperature remaining hot significantly increased too.
The good times, they’re gonna roll, especially with the Saints teed up next week.
And now the links part of the links post…
- Some trade deadlines were last week, but many more are this week, with the deadline in standard ESPN leagues coming tomorrow. So how much should you care about schedules when you’re considering a deadline deal? [Tristan Cockcroft]
- Don’t scoff at Chad Henne’s blowup, deep leaguers. He has some highly favorable matchups over the next few weeks. [The Fake Football]
- Brace for more DeMarco Murray pain. He’s likely not playing Thursday. [Fort Worth Star-Telegram]
- The Packers aren’t pleased with James Starks. And really, no one is pleased with James Starks. [Green Bay Press-Gazette]