San Francisco 49ers' Interest in Jermichael Finley Likely Just for Leverage

By Brian Cox
Jermichael Finley Green Bay Packers
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers have a problem at the tight end position. Their biggest mismatch in the passing game and one of the faces of the franchise, Vernon Davis, is holding out for a new contract. If the holdout lasts into the start of the season, their starting tight end would be Vance McDonald and their backup would be Garrett Celek. However, it’s been reported that the 49ers have talked to free-agent tight end Jermichael Finley.

Finley suffered a spinal contusion on Oct. 20 in a game against the Cleveland Browns and had to have his C3 and C4 vertebrae fused. He is now able to run, catch and anything else he is needed to do, but the doctors aren’t sure how his body will react when he gets hit. No one will know the answer to that until it happens. That is what makes Finley such a risky prospect for any team.

With so much risk involved in Finley, why would the 49ers even engage in talks with him? The most likely reason is for leverage. With Davis holding out, talking to Finley sends Davis a message that he’s not irreplaceable. Assuming Finley is completely healthy, he would be quite the addition for the 49ers and not a major step down from Davis. He would certainly be a step up from McDonald. When Davis and the 49ers sit back down at the negotiating table, the 49ers will now be able to say that they’re not afraid to move on from Davis.

Another reason they could be talking to him is the 49ers are doing their due diligence. Finley is a talented tight end and if the price is right, would be another great weapon for their quarterback Colin Kaepernick. General manager Trent Baalke would really be kicking himself if they didn’t reach out to Finley and he ended up signing with another team on a really cheap contract. As a GM, you have to reach out to him and see what kind of money he’s looking for.

As a 49ers fan, don’t hold your breath for Finley signing with the team. The 49ers talking to him is most likely a leverage move and due diligence. If he does end up signing with the team, him, Davis and McDonald would make quite the tight end trio once the Davis hold out ended. But again, don’t hold your breath. It is also very early in talks and any signing wouldn’t be any time soon.

Brian Cox is a San Francisco 49ers writer for Follow him on Twitter @bacox87, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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