With 49ers WR’s Braylon Edwards out indefinitely and Michael Crabtree expected to return to the lineup after missing last week’s game because of his surgically repaired left foot the receiving threats are in flux. The 49ers offense already have trouble moving down the field on long drives and with Edwards out and Crabtree not 100%, if he plays at all, Vernon Davis will need to step up. Davis was seldom used as a receiving threat last week against the Cowboys. Finishing with two receptions and 18 receiving yards, Jim Harbaugh assigned Davis to blocking duties than throwing to him down the field over the middle.
Harbaugh utilized Davis effectively in the win against the Seahawks as he finished with five receptions and 47 receiving yards. Davis should always be a focal point for the offense but Harbaugh wanted to use the tight end more as a blocker than a receiver against the Cowboys front seven last week and that affected the passing game. Against the Bengals Davis should be the receiving threat target which will draw coverage off the other receivers allowing them to get open.
When it comes to the best receiving threat the 49ers have Harbaugh knows Davis is number one. Harbaugh has all the confidence in the world in Davis but it is lacking with the man throwing to him, Alex Smith. Davis said after last week’s game that “we’ve still got to keep everybody involved” so you know he is itching to be used as a receiver more. With limited options in the passing game against the Bengals the 49ers will need to rely on a veteran like Davis who will garner the attention of double teams but is talented enough to still make the catch.