Watching Seattle Seahawks tight end Chris Baker streak through the middle of the Arizona Cardinals' defense to catch a deep ball for a 44-yard gain had to catch Vernon Davis' attention during San Francisco 49ers study sessions this week.
If Baker could get deep for what stands as his second reception longer than 36 yards in 125 career games, imagine what opportunities might be available to the 49ers' tight end. Davis ranks tied for the NFL lead among tight ends with two receptions of at least 40 yards this season.
The 49ers' problems in pass protection could make Davis more valuable as a blocker, in theory, but the team has generally featured him as a receiver over the past two seasons.
The Cardinals' defense has struggled on multiple fronts. Some of its failures against tight ends have figured prominently in defeats to San Diego and Minnesota in particular. The troubles point to a primary issue for Arizona this season: how to make best use of strong safety Adrian Wilson, who excels around the line of scrimmage, but not so much in deep coverage.
The chart shows tight ends with touchdown catches against Arizona this season.