SANTA CLARA -- When tight end Vernon Davis was drafted in 2006 by the 49ers, he showed ridiculous speed and athletic ability for someone of his 6-foot-3, 254-pound frame.
Even though it remains uncertain if Davis will suit up against his former team due to being in the concussion protocol, Washington interim head coach Bill Callahan says that at 35 years, Davis still has the athleticism that sets him apart.
“He’s been ageless in so many senses,” Callahan said. “To come out here at his age and to still play at a high level and still function, not only as a blocker in-line but to generate vertical speed down the field.”
Back in the 2006 NFL Combine, Davis ran a 4.38 40-yard-dash, making him a unique prospect that would inevitably create mismatches on the field. The 49ers selected him as the sixth overall pick of the draft just one month later.
Davis is currently ranked 12th of all active players in receptions (583) and receiving yards (7,562). Callahan believes Davis’ speed is still a trait that opposing defenders have to prepare for.
“I think that was his strength coming out and it still remains his strength,” Callahan said. “So that’s something that he’s always possessed and maintained. I think that’s a credit to his operation. A credit to how he’s taking care of himself in the offseason.”
Davis is not the only prominent veteran on the Washington roster. 34 year-old former first round pick Adrian Peterson is the team’s starting running back and 36 year-old Donald Penn is their starting left tackle.
“These types of players that come onto your roster at a late time in their career, they still have it,” Callahan said. “You know they were first rounders when they came out. They are elite athletes.
“It’s kind of interesting to watch these guys over the years and watch them train and talk about their training in the offseason and where they go and they get to help them to these different levels of performance.”
In the first four weeks of the 2019 season, Davis caught 10 of his 19 targets for 123 yards and a touchdown before being held out of the last two games. While his stats may have decreased since he was a member of the 49ers, Callahan believes his skills are at an elite level.
[RELATED: Davis will 'forever be a 49er at heart']
“He’s unbelievably athletic,” Callahan said. “He gets down in the weight room he can still throw up numbers that he did as an early pro, and he can still run. That’s the amazing thing. Usually guys of that age and caliber, at some point in time, their skills diminish and they’re not able to function at that elite level. But he has shown that there’s no drop-off.”
“He is ageless in that sense and he can win in a match up whether it’s a linebacker or it’s a safety. As long as he can keep winning those matchups, he will keep playing.”