SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Vernon Davis refers to himself as “just a piece of the puzzle” when it comes to the San Francisco 49ers’ offense.
Reality suggests he’s selling himself a bit short.
With leading receiver Michael Crabtree sidelined at least until November due to a torn Achilles tendon, all signs point toward the eighth-year tight end becoming a primary target for quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Perhaps that’s why Davis has spent some of training camp lining up at wide receiver.
His speed and athleticism make him a matchup nightmare for opposing defensive coordinators, and it makes sense for the 49ers to get creative in finding ways to get him the ball.
“I’m willing to step up and do whatever they ask me to do,” Davis said Sunday. “They’ve been having me line up at wide receiver, pretty much all over the place. It’s a good thing that I get the opportunity to work with those guys because it not only helps me at the wide receiver position, it also helps me at the tight end position. My feet get quicker, my route-running is better.”
49ers coach Jim Harbaugh did not address the prospect of Davis playing receiver, but he said he likes what he’s seen from his tight end so far in camp.
“I see a lot of improvement, in his ability as a football player, his route-running,” Harbaugh said. “He looks really good, in the prime of his career.”
Davis’ 2012 regular season stats — 41 catches, 548 yards, five touchdowns — were disappointing compared to past seasons. But he busted out under the spotlight of the postseason.
Davis had five catches for 106 yards and a touchdown in the NFC championship game win at Atlanta. He hauled in six catches for 104 yards in a losing effort against Baltimore in the Super Bowl.