The 2013 season has been an interesting one for Colin Kaepernick. One thing that has carried over from the last few games of his dynamic 2012 season is his connection to Vernon Davis. The two have hooked up for six touchdowns on the year so far. There were a lot of questions about the chemistry between these two star players. At this point, those questions can be put to rest.
Davis is averaging an astonishing 18.4 yards per catch. That is 5.4 yards more than his career average of 13.0 yards. Having a quarterback like Kaepernick makes him even more dangerous. Kaepernick has a big arm and will get the ball down field to his tight end consistently. This is shown by Davis’ seven plays of over twenty yards.
A lot of people were blaming the decrease in Davis production last year on Kaepernick. If you look closely at his game log, you would see that Davis had his first game in which he didn’t record a catch for the first time with Alex Smith at his quarterback. There was somewhat of a struggle even before Kaepernick took over. That is not to say that the Davis to Kaepernick connection didn’t struggle.
Things seemed to click in the NFC Championship game against the Atlanta Falcons when Davis was targeted six times and had five catches for 106 yards. Davis also scored a key touchdown. The Super Bowl also was a showcase for Davis. He had six catches and went over the one hundred yard mark again.
The 49ers know that Davis presents match up problems for the opposing defenses. They do their best to get him matched up in one on one situations. Let’s see how Greg Roman and the crew did this against the Arizona Cardinals:
Here you see the 49ers have Davis and Vance McDonald at the bottom of the screen. The strong side of this formation on the wide side of the field. It looks like the 49ers will run to that side.
The 49ers shift and flex Davis out wide while McDonald lines up at tight end on the other side. This forces the safety, Yeremiah Bell to line up against Davis in man.
Bell decides to play Davis at the line of scrimmage. That is a mistake because Davis is much more athletic and faster. Davis gets a free release and runs right by him.
The all go play call has the two receivers at the top of the screen running go routes and McDonald runs right at the other safety, Tyrann Mathieu then breaks to the post. This forces Mathieu to make a decision. Kaepernick will read Mathieu and make his throw accordingly. In this case, Mathieu did what most young safeties would do. He jumped what was right in front of him, the post route.
Davis erased the cushion right away and was even with Bell. Here is when the receiver motto “If I’m even, I’m leaving” kicks in. Mathieu is too late getting over to help because he was concerned about McDonald on the post. Kaepernick throws a beautiful pass to the upfield shoulder of Davis for a touchdown on this well designed play.
They also look to him in playaction situations. Davis is a very effective blocker and sometimes they will have him run a delayed route to the opposite side of the play fake.
Vernon Davis makes the 49er passing game go. They have different ways of getting him the ball in great situations. He and Kaepernick have become one of the better quarterback/tight end combinations in the NFL. It is safe to say that the questions about whether or not they have chemistry are an afterthought. Each time Davis scores a touchdown, he shoots a free throw right over the lower goal post. The first player to great him more times than not…Colin Kaepernick.