** Vernon Davis isn't a great concern either - Since coming back from his injury 2 games ago, he's had 1 catch for 11 yds. Looks like the Niners have serious TE worries coming into this game - Advantage? Saints.
He might be a "beast" on paper, and he might be a "beast" if you're still looking at his pre-draft work-outs footage, but he hasn't been a beast at all this year in SF's offense.
In SF's first 11 games, he's only played in 5, and started in 3. Of course, he's also been injured a part of that time, but when he's played, he's been anything but a beast.
In 5 games, he has a whopping 8 receptions for 48 yds. Take away 1 of those eight which went for 31 yds, and you get a much clearer picture of exactly how much he's contributed to SF's offense this year... Not very much.
I'm not discounting his raw athletic talent, but right now (based on what he's done in his 1st NFL season), I'm much happier to see him this week than I would be to see a Whitten, Shockey, Gates, or Gonzalez.
Eric is more noted as a receiver than a blocker, even though he is a decent blocker. That's also one of the reasons SF used their 1st round pick this year on V. Davis. Davis is supposed to be able to do it all (Receive and block), much like Tony Gonzalez.
He's (Eric) has 32 receptions this year, and actually led the Niners in receptions in 2004. 05' was also a good year for him. The Niners were hoping to use more 2 tight end receiving sets with Eric and Vernon this week, so that's the big loss for them.