KPIX 5 Sports Director Dennis O’Donnell hosts “Gameday” every Sunday night at 11:30pm on KPIX 5 and offers his unique sports analysis here.

SANTA CLARA (KPIX 5) — If this were a game of poker, I’d sure like to have Vernon Davis’ cards.

I’m not a big fan of player hold outs, never have been. If you sign a contract, play the contract. That’s what a contract is for. Vernon is already the third-highest compensated tight end in the league and he’s got two years left on the deal he signed in 2010 which, at the time, made him the highest paid tight end in the NFL.

But the point of this blog is about leverage. I’ve read far and wide that Vernon doesn’t have any. Uhhhh..wrong. Vernon’s got all the cards. And they’re aces.

This isn’t about Vernon being the third highest-paid tight end behind Rob Gronkowski and Jason Witten. It’s about what Vernon means to the 49ers.

San Francisco will begin the season without its two of its best defensive players in Navarro Bowman and Aldon Smith. They can hardly afford to lose arguably their best offensive player.

When home field advantage counts for so much, as the 49ers learned the hard way last season, the first four games of September could decide who hosts the NFC Championship game. San Francisco opens the season against Dallas, Chicago, Arizona, and Philadelphia. No Bowman and no Aldon is challenging enough. Add to that Vernon Davis? There, folks is your leverage.

Davis is the 49ers best blocking and receiving tight end. Jim Harbaugh has praised his effort even when Davis doesn’t show up on the stat sheet.

Case in point, two years ago in the 49ers 13-6 victory over Seattle, Davis didn’t have a single catch, but Harbaugh said Davis had one of the best games as a blocker, assigned to 350lb defensive end Red Bryant. No offense to Vance McDonald or Garrett Celek, but Harbaugh’s “next man up” theory won’t work in this scenario. Leverage.

Vernon Davis caught 52 passes for 850 yards and tied a career-high with 13 touchdowns. The closest to him was Anquan Boldin with seven touchdowns. Leverage.

Finally, the window. The 49ers time is now. Right now. I realize they had a potentially strong draft that could extend the Super Bowl window, but potential is the key word. There’s no guarantee in an NFL draft. Just look at who they picked in 2012. They simply cannot afford to not have Davis on this roster in September. Leverage.

You gotta know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em. Time for the 49ers to show their cards, and their wallets.