49ers deal tight end Davis to Broncos
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — John Elway likes to talk about the long-term vision, winning "not only now but from now on."
Coming off a 500-yard performance and a shellacking of the Green Bay Packers, the boss of the unbeaten Denver Broncos made a bold move that shows he's all in for 2015.
Denver's general manager sent a pair of late-round draft picks to the San Francisco 49ers for two-time Pro Bowl tight end Vernon Davis on Monday, the first big move on the eve of the league's trading deadline.
Elway called the 31-year-old veteran "a big weapon for us," one who'll add experience, speed and leadership to an offense that can use more big-play ability.
Davis gives the Broncos (7-0) some firepower over the middle that Peyton Manning has been missing since losing Julius Thomas and Jacob Tamme to free agency, and rookie Jeff Heuerman to a knee injury just a week after the draft.
The 10th-year pro has 55 career touchdown catches.
"Thank you (at)49ers for 10 amazing years. Its been a blessing to play for such an incredible organization," Davis posted Monday night on Twitter. "Shout out to all of the coaches, staff, and teammates that made this chapter a very special one in my life. Most of all, a very special thank you to the (hash)49erfaithful family."
The 49ers will get sixth-round picks in 2016 and 2017 and the Broncos also receive a seventh-round pick in 2016. If Davis, who's due about $2.3 million on the final year of his contract, can quickly adapt to Gary Kubiak's offense and finish strong, the Broncos could also get a compensatory draft pick if Davis leaves after the season and signs elsewhere.
Denver is coming off its biggest win of the year, a 29-10 dismantling of Green Bay in which tight ends Owen Daniels and Virgil Green combined for a season-best 105 yards receiving. Before that, they'd managed just 123 yards as they had to mostly stay in and help a battered O-line protect Manning.
Forced into multiple receiver sets more often than Kubiak would like, the Broncos added beefy blocker Richard Gordon to their tight end corps last month.
"With Vernon coming aboard we've got four tight ends that will give us the ability to do a lot of different things," Elway said.
Not only will Davis give Manning a red-zone target, but his addition can take some attention off wide receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders the way Julius Thomas used to. Defenses had to pick their poison and Manning could exploit one-on-one coverage.
"We're trying to win from now on," Elway said. "But this will be a big step for us to win this season."
Davis will take his physical today.
"I have great feelings for Vernon and everything he's accomplished here," 49ers coach Jim Tomsula said on KNBR radio. "He's a good man. We wish him nothing but success."
Davis has 18 catches for 194 yards this season and is coming off a season-high six receptions Sunday in a loss at St. Louis.