Sports

49ers tight end wants the ball

SANTA CLARA -- Mike Nolan heard a knock on his office door the other day. His visitor? A frustrated Vernon Davis.

"He came in and said, 'Coach, I just want to know what I can do to get the ball,' " Nolan said. "I assured him that it's a work in progress on offense and that it will happen. He's not here to block on every down."

Blocking, however, has been the tight end's chief assignment so far this season. Through two games, he has four receptions, three of them short passes on which the defense immediately swarmed him.

His meager production is emblematic of an offense that sits at the bottom of most offensive categories and yet appears to have the potential to be far better than last season.

Davis' ability was on display throughout spring and summer practice sessions. No 49ers defender could stop him, and he appeared to be quarterback Alex Smith's main target. As training camp drew to a close, Davis set a goal of 1,000 yards receiving this season. At his current pace, he'll finish with 216 yards.

Asked what the root of the problem is, Davis pointed to the game plan.

"Sometimes, the game plan is used," he said. "Sometimes, it might not be the best one."

Offensive coordinator Jim Hostler echoed what Nolan said earlier in the week by saying the issue was a lack of consistency. Whether it's pass protection, receivers dropping passes or being bumped off their routes, something different seems to upset the team's offensive rhythm, he said. Hostler added that the biggest deficiency is being unable to exploit defenses that are stacked along the line of scrimmage to stop the run.

"His frustration is all of our frustration," Hostler said of Davis. "We want to move the ball. We want to be more consistent. We didn't work all offseason and training camp to start like we've started."

In other 49ers news, running back Frank Gore didn't return from his mother's funeral in Miami in time for practice Wednesday. Nolan expects the Pro Bowl starter to be back today.

RAIDERS' DEFENSE HURTING -- The Raiders may have to solve their defensive problems of the first two weeks without their top pass rusher.

Pro Bowl defensive end Derrick Burgess missed practice because of a calf injury, and his status for Sunday's game against Cleveland is in doubt.

If Burgess is unable to play, the Raiders would be forced to start rookie Jay Richardson against a Browns team coming off a 51-point performance.

"I'm just looking to fill in, do what I got to do, do my job and make sure there's no drop-off between me and him," Richardson said. "Hopefully, he gets healthy and gets back in there, and we'll be ready to roll again. ... He's the man. He's a Pro Bowler, you know?"

OWENS IS FINED -- After seeing the videotape of Terrell Owens' latest touchdown celebration, the NFL office wasn't laughing.

Owens said he was fined "a good chunk of money" -- which he later defined as thousands of dollars -- for a celebration that included him using the goal post and football to poke fun at the New England Patriots' spying scandal during Dallas' 37-20 victory over Miami on Sunday.

A league spokesman said the fine was $7,500.

"It wasn't even the fact I used the goal post as a prop," Owens said. "They said I used the ball."

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