What's this about the year of the tight end?

Thanks to Vernon Davis, the San Francisco 49ers rank second among NFL teams in touchdowns by tight ends over the past three seasons.

The other NFC West teams rank no better than 27th.

2009-2011 TDs by TEs

The video above features a few thoughts about what's in store for the position in the division.

I've also put together charts showing team and division rankings for touchdowns by tight ends.

Not pictured: The 49ers rank third in receiving yardage by tight ends over the same three-year period. The Rams are 25th, the Seahawks 26th and the Cardinals 31st. The rankings would be similar if we used receptions as the stat (Arizona would fall to last in the NFL with 113 receptions by tight ends).

There is no law saying a team must have statistically prolific tight ends to succeed. But with NFC West teams making an effort to upgrade the position recently, a trend that continued with Kellen Winslow's signing in Seattle, we can safely assume teams from the division would expect better results than these.

Adam Gabriel's recent pieceInsider analyzing Rob Gronkowski's new deal made the following observation:

"The trend of increased tight end use has been evolving over the past dozen years. In the four-year period from 2000-03, on average three tight ends per year topped 700 yards receiving, and a similar number scored six or more TDs per year.

"Those numbers more than doubled in the four-year stretch from 2004-07. The results then peak from 2008-11, thanks partly to last season, which was the Year of the Tight End in the NFL.

"A whopping 14 TEs had more than 700 yards receiving (compared to two in 2003), and 11 had six or more TDs (compared to one in 2000)."

Davis was the only NFC West tight end last season with more than 28 receptions and 352 yards.

Tight End Touchdowns