Here’s hoping Bengals tight end Jermaine Gresham takes heart watching San Francisco’s winning drive Saturday. The one where 49ers tight end Vernon Davis took over the last 97 seconds and personally willed his team into next week’s NFC title game.
Davis accounted for 61 of the final 85 yards, giving him a monster 180 in a playoff masterpiece that has to conjure up memories of the Kellen Winslow Game 30 years ago without the Miami dehydration but with the Dwight Clark-like heroics.
Gresham can be that guy for the Bengals. He’s been frustrated in his first two seasons with promising yet sporadic production. But he is a Davis in the making. Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden wants him to be that guy and the fact Gresham is going to be in his offense for a second straight year should really help him.
Like the 6-3, 250-pound Davis, the sixth pick in the 2006 draft, the 6-5, 260-pound Gresham, the 21st pick in 2010, had to deal with a change in quarterbacks and systems early in his career. Truth be told, Gresham’s first two seasons have been more prolific than what Davis did in ’06 and ’07. Gresham has caught 108 balls for 1,016 yards and 10 TDs compared to Davis’s 72-774-7.
And Davis didn’t pass what Gresham did this past season (56 catches for 596 yards and six TDs) until his fourth season when he broke out with 78-965-13.
Gruden believes that not only will another year in the system benefit Gresham, but his first offseason with it is going to make a difference.
“We’ve started to get more out of Jermaine. The more he practices and the more he hears about the game and the concepts, he’s going to get better and better,” Gruden said last week. ”Because he’s as athletically talented, gifted tight end as there is in the league. From the standpoint of experience running these route concepts, he’s a little bit behind.
“But he can get up to speed in the offseason and next year we have huge, high hopes for him. That will take a lot of pressure off A.J. (Green) when they start doubling him with a safety on the outside, that will open up the field for a big guy like that. It will be huge.”
All Gresham has to do is take a deep breath and look at Davis on Saturday and realize he’s got better numbers than he did at this age.
And he won’t turn 24 until after the second set of OTAs in June.
Tags: Jay Gruden, Jermaine Gresham, Vernon Davis
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