Notes: Rex loves tweaking Patriots

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- On Wednesday, Rex Ryan said the 49ers' Vernon Davis is the premier tight end in football." A lot of folks up in New England will take umbrage with that remark because they think Rob Gronkowski is the greatest tight end since Mike Ditka.

"You know I had to get a shot in at a Patriot," Ryan said Thursday, laughing.

Turning diplomatic, Ryan said Davis is the No. 1 tight end this week, and that Gronkowski will be No. 1 in three weeks when they face the Patriots.

DAMAGE CONTROL: Obviously, Ryan got wind of RB Joe McKnight telling reporters Wednesday he's not thrilled with his move to cornerback. Ryan said McKnight "misunderstood" his intentions, claiming they want him to maintain his role on offense while learning the defense.

What role on offense? McKnight has appeared in only seven plays.

He's attending defensive meetings this week, not offensive -- which pretty much tells you the Jets' plan for him. Ryan, trying to boost McKnight's spirits, mentioned that he intercepted three passes Wednesday in practice -- one from each quarterback.

ONE IN, ONE OUT: As expected, rookie WR Stephen Hill (hamstring) was all but ruled out for Sunday by Ryan. He will be replaced by Jeremy Kerley or Chaz Schilens. Ryan expects TE Dustin Keller (hamstring) to return after missing two games ... Ryan declined to comment on the end of the league's lockout of game officials. "I haven't really thought about it," he said ... When OLB Bryan Thomas (hamstring) returns -- and it could be this week -- he'll go back to his starting job, replacing Garrett McIntyre.