Vernon Davis Injury: Updates on 49ers Star's Ankle and Return

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistSeptember 15, 2014

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Updates from Sunday, Sept. 28

Cam Inman of Bay Area News Group updated Vernon Davis' status for Week 4:

Cam Inman @CamInman

#49ers inactives: CB Tremaine Brock (toe) C Marcus Martin (knee) QB Josh Johnson WR Quinton Patton TE Vance McDonald DT Tank Carradine

Earlier, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported the pre-game expectation for Davis' status for today's game:

Ian Rapoport @RapSheet

Good to go RT @tonyjaramillo_7: @RapSheet what are you hearing about Vernon Davis availability?

Updates from Friday, Sept. 26

Cam Inman of Bay Area News Group reported on Vernon Davis' status for Week 4:

Cam Inman @CamInman

#49ers questionable vs #Eagles: S Bethea (ankle), CB Brock (toe), RT Davis (hamstring), TE Davis (ankle, knee), TE McDonald (knee)

Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area also reported on Davis' health:

Tight end Vernon Davis (ankle) said he still feels some pain and expects a game-time decision on Sunday to determine whether he’ll be available to face the Eagles.

Updates from Wednesday, Sept. 24

Cam Inman of Bay Area News Group provides an update on Vernon Davis' status:

Cam Inman @CamInman

#49ers starting practice without LB Patrick Willis (he's in weight room), TE McDonald CB Brock. But TE VDavis, RT Anthony Davis is back

Updates from Tuesday, Sept. 23 

Cam Inman of Bay Area News Group provides an update on Vernon Davis' injury:

Cam Inman @CamInman

#49ers Vernon Davis not only says ankle is "way better," he looks way better and shows no limp

Updates from Monday, Sept. 22

Jim Harbaugh spoke about Vernon Davis and his injured ankle headed into Week 4 (via the 49ers):

San Francisco 49ers @49ers

Harbaugh said he is "optimistic" that @VernonDavis85 will be able to play Sunday.

Updates from Sunday, Sept. 21

The San Francisco 49ers reported on Vernon Davis' status for Week 3:

San Francisco 49ers @49ers

#49ers inactives: WR Patton, CB Brock, C Martin, T Davis, TE Davis, TE McDonald and DT Carradine.

Earlier, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports the pre-game expectation for Davis:

Ian Rapoport @RapSheet

It’s doubtful #49ers star TE Vernon Davis (bruised ankle) will play today vs. #Cardinals I’m told. He was on crutches until Thursday.

Updates from Friday, Sept. 19

Eric Branch of San Francisco Chronicle has the latest on Davis:

Eric Branch @Eric_Branch

#49ers list CB Brock (toe), RT Davis (hamstring), TE Davis (knee, ankle) and TE McDonald (knee) questionable for Sunday.

Cam Inman of Bay Area News Group has more on Davis:

Cam Inman @CamInman

#49ers Vernon Davis (ankle) says he's "feeling great" but is taking it "nice and slow." Docs will make call game day. He lightly ran today

Updates from Thursday, Sept. 18

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee updated Vernon Davis' status from 49ers practice:

Matt Barrows @mattbarrows

Vernon Davis has ditched his crutches but is walking with a noticeable limp. We're talking pirate-with-peg-leg limp here.

Earlier, Will Carroll of Bleacher Report weighed in on Vernon Davis' injured ankle:

Updates from Wednesday, Sept. 17 

Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle provides an update on Vernon Davis' ankle injury:

Eric Branch @Eric_Branch

#49ers not practicing: TE Davis (ankle), TE McDonald (knee), RT Davis (hamstring), CB Brock (toe), DT Smith (day off).

Coach Jim Harbaugh commented on the severity of Davis' injury via the 49ers Twitter account:

San Francisco 49ers @49ers

Jim Harbaugh said the team "dodged a bullet” with @VernonDavis85’s injury. Should know more later this week. #49ers

Updates from Tuesday, Sept. 16

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com updated Vernon Davis' status following his ankle injury on Sunday:

Matt Maiocco @MaioccoNBCS

Source: #49ers TE Vernon Davis avoids significant ankle injury. He could return for Sunday’s game vs. Cardinals. http://t.co/nOmYHqXYtB

Original Text

Few tight ends in the NFL can break open a game with wide receiver-like athleticism and soft hands like Vernon Davis, but the San Francisco 49ers offense has to operate without him for the time being.

Davis, 30, suffered an ankle injury in Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears, per the team's official Twitter account:

San Francisco 49ers @49ers

TE @VernonDavis85 (ankle) has been ruled OUT for the rest of the game. #CHIvsSF

Mindi Bach of CSN Bay Area snapped a picture of Davis leaving the field on a cart:

Mindi Bach @MBachSports

#49ers TE Vernon Davis being carted off the field with an ankle injury. http://t.co/C7aWxeeA0j

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com saw Davis in the locker room after the game:

Matt Maiocco @MaioccoNBCS

Vernon Davis comes hobbling back to his locker while on crutches.

Davis’ injury is particularly worrisome for San Francisco because he has been so productive throughout his career. Entering the 2014 season, Davis had 397 catches, 5,201 receiving yards and 53 receiving touchdowns. The two-time Pro Bowler tied for the league lead in touchdown receptions in 2009 with 13 and was tied for third in 2013 with 13 again.

Uncredited/Associated Press

That 2013 campaign may have been his eighth in the league, but he tallied 52 catches for 850 yards and double-digit scores. He and young quarterback Colin Kaepernick looked more comfortable together every time they stepped on the field, and there was no reason to expect anything different this season.

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 12:  Vernon Davis #85 of the San Francisco 49ers catches a touchdown in the second quarter against the Carolina Panthers during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at Bank of America Stadium on January 12, 2014 in Charlotte, North Caro
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

However, the long-term loss of Davis would have repercussions beyond just his on-field production. 

He is one of the veterans and team leaders on the roster, and that was apparent even in training camp, as Chris Biderman of Scout.com noted:

Davis’ team-oriented attitude was also on display in comments he made, via Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle, when discussing the 49ers' new-look wide receiver corps: “At the end of the day, if I’m just blocking, that’s good too. And they’re catching passes? That works for me as well.”

The 49ers need Davis’ leadership and talent on the field as they try to finally get over the hump under Jim Harbaugh in 2014. In the past three seasons, they have two NFC Championship Game losses and a loss in the Super Bowl. It wasn’t just that San Francisco missed out on the Lombardi Trophy that was difficult to accept; it was how close it came in each loss.

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 29:  Tight end Vernon Davis #85 of the San Francisco 49ers walks out onto the field before the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 29, 2013 in Glendale, Arizona.  The 49ers defeat
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The 49ers almost completed a dramatic comeback against the Baltimore Ravens in the Super Bowl after the lights famously went out. They were a Richard Sherman-defended pass away from reaching the Super Bowl last year. And they came within a muffed punt away from being in the Super Bowl when they lost to the New York Giants in 2012.

That San Francisco may have to erase those demons without Davis is unusual because he is typically a very durable player.

In fact, he played in all 16 games five straight seasons from 2008 to 2012 and played in 15 contests last year. Now the team can only hope there are more contests in Davis’ near future.

The 49ers have other capable pass-catchers on offense, including veteran Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree. But expect them to lean a little more on their strong running game in Davis' absence.

*Stats courtesy of Davis’ Pro-football reference page.