The Redskins tight end spent 10 years with the San Francisco 49ers after they selected him in the 2005 NFL Draft. Sunday, he'll face them for the first time in his career.
In 2006, the San Francisco 49ers entered the NFL Draft seeking to bolster an offense that finished last in the NFL in total offense.
With second-year quarterback Alex Smith – the No. 1-overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft – already in the fold, San Francisco wanted to surround him with talent. So with the No. 6-overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft, the 49ers selected University of Maryland tight end Vernon Davis.
It was just the fourth time in NFL Draft history that a tight end was selected in the first six picks. Expectations were high for Davis, especially after stellar showing at the NFL Combine in which he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds (still a record among tight ends), while tallying a broad jump nearly a foot further than the competition at his position.
Despite the heavy expectations placed on him, Davis didn't disappoint during his time with the 49ers.
In nine-plus seasons in San Francisco, the Washington, D.C., native recorded 441 receptions for 5,640 yards and 55 touchdowns. He toppled 850 receiving yards in three different seasons, had two 13-touchdown campaigns and was a two-time Pro Bowler.
Even though Davis was a centerpiece for some of San Francisco's best teams of the last decade, his time with the 49ers quietly came to an end two years ago when he was traded mid-season to the Denver Broncos.
This Sunday will mark the first time he's faced the team that drafted him since his departure.
"It feels great. It's been a while since I've ran into the San Francisco 49ers," Davis said this week. "It's going to be great. I look forward to it. It's going to be great to see some of the people that I had an opportunity to cultivate relationships with when I got drafted, so that will be nice. I can't wait for that."
While Davis has a lot of memories playing with the same 49ers team he'll oppose this week, he understood why he was traded. His focus now -- 23 months after his 49ers tenure ended -- is helping the Washington Redskins get to 3-2 on the young season.
The Washington Redskins announced on Thursday, March 31, 2016, the signing of free agent tight end Vernon Davis. Here's a gallery of photos from his career.
"You get to a point where you move on. You understand it's the nature of the business. It happens," Davis said. "You play with the team, you get traded, or just something happens. For me, it's just another game. I'm just really, really excited to be able to see some of the familiar faces that I had to cultivate relationships with."
It looked as if Davis had slowed significantly during his time with the Broncos. He recorded just 20 receptions for 201 yards in nine regular season games and didn't factor in at all during the team's playoff run to Super Bowl 50.
Even though he admitted that he was never fully comfortable in Denver, Davis has rebounded in Washington. In 2016, Davis recorded 44 receptions for 583 yards and two touchdowns.
This past offseason, he was rewarded with a new contract that will keep him in his hometown for a little bit longer. So far, the Redskins' decision to re-sign him has paid off.
Entering Week 5 action, Davis paced all tight ends with an average of 20 yards per reception. On A 69-yard catch-and-run against the Kansas City Chiefs, Davis moved past Heath Miller (6,569) for the 10th-most career receiving yards by a tight end in NFL history.
Catching the ball at Kansas City's 45-yard line in stride, Davis zig–zagged his way through the defense for his longest reception since the 2010 season.
It showed that Davis still has a lot left in the tank, even in his 12th NFL season.
Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins said he's been nicknamed el caballo because he's "like a thoroughbred the way he runs down the field." Redskins head coach Jay Gruden, meanwhile, describes him as a physical freak.
Its proof that Davis is still very much the same player he was during his time with the 49ers.
"He's just one of those guys you look forward to seeing every day and then you watch him practice and it's always hard and effective. Great guy, great player. [He] takes care of himself."