The trade of Vernon Davis from the San Francisco 49ers to the Denver Broncos came as no surprise to anyone who’s had their finger on the pulse of NFL trade deadline transactions. Five years ago, when Davis was at the peak of his pass-catching abilities, perhaps; but not today. The 10-year veteran has hardly figured in the 49ers’ pass attack since the 2013 season, with his number of catches cut in half from 2013 to 2014 (52 vs 26), and he hasn’t scored a touchdown since week 1 of 2014.
Seemingly, San Francisco’s offense has been leaning far more on its wide receiving corps and fourth-year TE Garrett Celek. Davis was one of the 49ers’ highest earners, picking up an average of $7.35 million a year over his five-year contract. However, that deal was due to expire at the end of this season, and rather than let Davis go as a free agent, it made sense for the franchise to pick up as much as they could for him before then. With the Broncos (7–0) bound to finish with a better record than the 49ers (2–6) this year, the decision to trade sixth-round draft picks in 2016 will benefit San Francisco, although that late in the draft, it hardly matters what order the teams pick in. And frankly, the same could be said for the extra sixth-round pick they stand to receive from Denver in 2017.
As for the Broncos, they now have a valuable weapon to add to Peyton Manning’s arsenal of targets. Davis’ arrival – in conjunction with the signing of Owen Daniels from the Ravens in the offseason – further fills the hole left by Julius Thomas’ departure to the Jaguars. Add to that the presence of wide receivers Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders and Andre Caldwell, plus Davis’ ability to block for Ronnie Hillman and CJ Anderson, and the Broncos are looking like even greater contenders to push the Patriots and the Bengals all the way in the race to represent the AFC in Super Bowl 50.