Niners' Vernon Davis Has Disappeared

Tight end, who has just four catches in past four games, says chemistry with new starting QB Colin Kaepernick isn't quite there yet

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty Images
    Tight end Vernon Davis of the 49ers says the chemistry isn't quite there yet with quarterback Colin Kaepernick. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

    It’s hard to miss Vernon Davis.

    He’s 6-foot-3 and 250 pounds, has an even bigger personality and ranks as one of the NFL’s best tight ends.

    Yet Davis over the past month has become the 49ers’ forgotten man. While the Niners’ offense has come to life in recent weeks with new starting quarterback Colin Kaepernick – even putting up 41 points in a victory over the Patriots this past Sunday night – Davis has played just a supporting role.

    In his past four games, Davis has just four catches for 29 yards.

    This, from a player who was the most dynamic piece of the 49ers offense in last season’s playoff victory over the Saints and a tight end with 78, 56 and 67 receptions in his previous three seasons coming into 2012.

    This year, he has 39 catches on 58 throws in his direction.

    This week, as the 10-3-1 Niners prepare for their Sunday night NFC showdown with 9-5 Seattle, Davis says he and Kaepernick are still working to build their chemistry. When Alex Smith was the starting QB, Davis often was his go-to receiver in big moments. Since Kaepernick has taken over, wideout Michael Crabtree has been that guy.

    “You have to develop that chemistry, that bond, so you can be on the same page,” Davis told the San Francisco Chronicle’s Eric Branch. “That’s something me and Kap don’t have right now. We don’t have it. You have to expect it because he just stepped in. Me and Alex, we’ve been here.”

    One play Davis talked about this week was a throw in which Davis was wide open against the Pats Sunday night. If Kaepernick would have connected with him, it would have been a 34-yard touchdown play. But Kaepernick’s bullet pass was just beyond Davis’ reach.

    “We don’t have that timing, but it will come, just like any quarterback and wide receiver,” Davis told Branch. “It takes time.”

    In Kaepernick’s first start, against the Bears on “Monday Night Football” on Nov. 19, Kaepernick and Davis did click, in a big way. In that game, Davis had six catches for 83 yards and a TD. So the potential is there for the two to consistently make big plays.

    San Francisco head coach Jim Harbaugh is confident it will come. He says opposing defenses often spend special attention on Davis, and give him double coverage. That’s opened opportunities for other receivers. Meanwhile, Harbaugh says Kaepernick and Davis have been putting in extra work together after practice.

    “I can think of a couple things in particular where Vernon and Colin spent some extra time on certain routes, extra during and after practice, and that helped,” Harbaugh told reporters Wednesday. “Just specific plays. That was a positive for us and that’s something we can continue. … I think there will be more focus on that this week.”