In the wake of receiver Michael Crabtree's Achilles injury, the San Francisco 49ers have tight end Vernon Davis taking reps at receiver. With free agent Brandon Lloyd still available, what are the chances San Francisco adds the proven receiver to its roster?
With the absence of Crabtree, Davis appears primed to take over as quarterback Colin Kaepernick's primary target. Coach Jim Harbaugh has been lining up Davis at wide out during training camp, according to ESPN. Playing Davis at receiver gives Kaepernick a reliable target amongst a largely inexperienced receiving corps, and it creates more opportunities for Davis to touch the ball.
Davis's familiarity with the system gives him an advantage over newcomer Anquan Boldin, and the tight end's size (6'3, 248 lbs), speed and athleticism creates a mismatch for smaller corners. Davis, 29, sees playing receiver as a chance to improve his all-around game.
"I'm willing to step up and do whatever they ask me to do," Davis said, via ESPN. "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."
He doesn't foresee a difficult transition, either.
"I mean, it's just like tight end," he said. "You're just running routes."
Lining up at receiver appears to be an occasional option, and it doesn't replace the loss of Crabtree - the 49ers are still missing a proven deep threat.
Lloyd is the best fit for what San Francisco needs. The speedy veteran can stretch the field, which would keep defenses honest and create more room for Boldin and Davis across the middle, as well as help the team's running game.
Crabtree is expected to suit up at some point this season, but the exact timeline is uncertain, according to SB Nation. Harbaugh has indicated he would give the receivers they have a shot, but his stance could soften by the end of training camp.