Bears coach Lovie Smith likes to say that Kellen Davis can do all the things the good tight ends can do.
Except catch passes.
And hold on to the ball.
And stand up.
This is a bad week for all of that to seem true. A loss on Monday night in San Francisco would drop the Bears behind Green Bay in the NFC North because the Packers temporarily hold the tiebreaker.
The Bears will try to avert that fall with a backup quarterback who prefers to avoid taking chances. It’s the kind of spot where the tight end might be one of the most valuable positions in the offense.
Except the Bears appear to have forfeited the tight end position.
With Jason Campbell replacing concussed starter Jay Cutler, the Bears offense changes. Campbell is more of a pocket passer and less of a gambler than Cutler. Campbell is more willing to take the checkdown. In fact, he was referred to as “Captain Checkdown’’ when he played in Oakland.
It wasn’t meant to be a criticism of Campbell, although that’s the way it seemed when he replaced Cutler in the second half against Houston last week.
Whatever, a quarterback deft at checking down needs more than just Matt Forte in the flat. He needs a tight end.
The Bears, however, don’t offer Campbell a reliable option.
Davis is coming off a game in which he fumbled on his first play and missed a critical pass near the end. He has had problems with false starts and holding this season, as well. That won’t do against a fast and tough San Francisco defense.
Davis has 11 receptions for 150 yards and two touchdowns this season. Compare that with San Francisco’s Vernon Davis, who has 29 catches for 404 yards and four scores.
When Smith talks about good tight ends, the 49ers’ Davis is part of the team picture. The Bears’ Davis is a scrub.
If Smith thinks his Davis can do all the things the good tight ends can do, then Smith can’t do all the player evaluation things that good coaches can do.