San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis may be skipping offseason team workouts to build his personal brand, but make no mistake about it—the budding entrepreneur is keeping busy.
The 6-foot-3, 250-pound Davis, long regarded as one of the strongest tight ends in the league, grabbed 52 passes for 850 yards and 13 touchdowns last season for the Niners. He also recently became the first athlete ever to sell shares based on the value of his brand through Fantex I.P.O.
His mind, though seemingly wandering, remains on football. Davis has enjoyed the offseason luxury of training in a personal gym for the first time, working with an eye toward improving those numbers even further.
“We're doing some things differently as far as trying to maximize off of the explosive ability that I have,” he says. “We're trying to take it to the next level, and that's what my training's been focusing on.”
While at Maryland nearly 10 years ago, Davis set several strength records for tight ends, including bench press (460 pounds) and squat (685 pounds) while running the 40-yard dash in 4.41 seconds and boasting a 40-inch vertical. Long story short, he was a monster, whose athleticism allowed the former All-American to line up all over the field.
“It's the foundation for what I'm doing now,” says Davis. “When I think back and I look at my path and where I started, I keep all those things in mind and continue to take it forward.”
Now 30 years old, Davis still weight-trains regularly, and keeps a focus on his diet in order to maintain both the bulk that lets him bang in the trenches and the agility and burst that allow him to line up at receiver when the situation presents itself. Davis has filled in at receiver for San Francisco on multiple occasions, including in 2012 when Michael Crabtree was sidelined with an Achilles injury.
“I do all the same things I used to do,” Davis says. “Maybe I do a little more as far as taking care of my body. Just eating right, getting an ample amount of proteins in my system."
"You have to be really adamant about that, getting the correct nutrition your body needs—I've been focusing on eating right and getting the right amount of carbs and proteins in my system every 2-3 hours.”
When away from both the gridiron and the gym, an unusual hobby has piqued Davis’s interest: curling. Introduced to the sport five years ago, Davis acquired a taste for curling’s precision and execution and has followed the game closely ever since.
“One of the [49ers] beat writers came up to me and asked me to try the sport,” he explains. “I participated, and I believe the U.S. Curling team actually called us to come out. I went out and had a great opportunity to get involved with those guys, and we just kept rolling.”
Davis attended both the 2010 Vancouver and 2014 Sochi Olympics, serving during the latter as the United States’ unofficial team captain. He picks up a brush every now and then in his free time, and doesn’t rule out the possibility of a career after football.
It’s unclear when Davis will return to the Niners. Reading between the lines, he might be angling for a new contract, after taking the stance that fellow elite receiving tight end Jimmy Graham should be paid like a wideout.
But until Davis does, it seems he’ll have no difficulty keeping himself busy.