Earlier this year, 49ers tight end Vernon Davis said on NBCSN’s Pro Football Talk that he’s more receiver than tight end. Coupled with his support for Jimmy Graham’s effort to get paid as a receiver, Davis presumably is looking for similar treatment.
But the facts tell a different story, at least for now. As explained by Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com, Davis lined up as a tight end 64.5 percent of the time in 2013. If that same trend holds through the final year of his current contract in 2015, Davis wouldn’t be eligible for the receiver franchise tag in 2016.
Of course, this assumes the 49ers would even use the tight end franchise tag on Davis in 2016, when he’ll be 32 years old. It also assumes that Davis doesn’t get between now and then the contract extension he currently covets.
For all tight ends who catch passes, the question of whether he’d be tagged as a receiver or tight end hinges on the outcome of the Graham grievance — and the question of whether the player lines up tight to the tackle more often than not, if Graham wins. If Graham and the Saints resolve the situation with a long0-term deal before a final ruling, the uncertainty will linger for every other team with a pass-catching tight end who is routinely used wide or in the slot.