SANTA CLARA -- Count Tony Gonzalez, the NFL's most prolific tight end ever, as one of Vernon Davis' admirers.

"His athletic ability is unparalleled in the NFL," Gonzalez said Thursday on a media conference call. "Nobody's as fast as him. His explosiveness is incredible."

Gonzalez hasn't been too shabby, himself, and the Atlanta Falcons tight end will play the second-to-last game of his 17-year career Monday night against the host 49ers.

Davis is fresh from becoming the first tight end in NFL history to record a second season of 12 touchdown catches. He has one touchdown in each of the past five games.

"He's the kind of tight end that blocks at a high level, has speed at a high level, has catching ability, has the ability to get open," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said of Davis. "He's an all-tool tight end, which is rare."

Gonzalez's single-season career best was 11 touchdowns in 1999. His 110 touchdown receptions are the most ever by a tight end (and sixth among all receivers). This season, he has 71 receptions for 740 yards and seven touchdowns.

Gonzalez insists he is retiring this time, as was thought to be the case after last season's loss to the 49ers in the NFC Championship game.

That's not to say the Cal product doesn't think he could return for an 18th season. "I absolutely could," Gonzalez said. "But it's the end of the road for me. I put everything out there, and I'm completely satisfied. If there was a football team in L.A., maybe I'd consider coming back. I can't take any more time away from (his son, Nikko)."

Gonzalez hasn't caught a touchdown pass in his three previous games at Candlestick Park, but he has a special memory of a life-altering play. On Nov. 12, 2000, Gonzalez was hit out of bounds and into photographer Mickey Pfleger, whose ensuing trip to the hospital revealed a brain tumor.

"It's a great story," said Gonzalez, who kept in touch with Pfleger before he died Dec. 17, 2010.

  • Harbaugh reiterated his stance about not discussing his contract in public, though he said he "absolutely" wants to be the 49ers coach for many more years.

    Harbaugh also dismissed any suggestion that there's friction between him and general manager Trent Baalke, and he characterized their relationship as "good."

    "It's the 49ers way; the team, the team, the team," Harbaugh said of the way he and Baalke approach their jobs. "Everybody does a little, and it adds up to be a lot.

    "Nobody is above the team. Nobody more important. Nobody less important. There are hundreds of people in this organization, and we all have a role, we all contribute to the best of our ability. That's the team, the team, the team. We win as a team."

  • Center Jonathan Goodwin (not injury related) did not practice. He has not missed a start in his three seasons with the 49ers. After apparently doing light conditioning, he headed into the locker room as practice began.

  • Wideout Mario Manningham (illness, knee) did not practice. He has nine receptions in six games since returning from a December 2012 knee injury.

  • Wide receiver Michael Crabtree was a full participant despite a lingering ankle issue and last Sunday's left-wrist injury. Also full participants were linebacker NaVorro Bowman (wrist) and cornerback Tarell Brown (ribs).

  • Defensive tackle Justin Smith (shoulder) worked out in the weight room rather than practice.

  • Limited in practice were running back Frank Gore (ankle, knee), guard Mike Iupati (knee), tight end Vance McDonald (ankle) and linebacker Dan Skuta (foot).

  • Punter Andy Lee said the wind blows "just as hard" at Candlestick as it does at the 49ers' Santa Clara facility, next to which is their future home of Levi's Stadium. "It's more constant here, more gusty there (at Candlestick)," Lee said.

  • Quote of the day: "I've never seen anybody throw to their left on the run better than Colin. Comparative to the universe of quarterbacks. It's a rare comparison." -- Harbaugh on Colin Kaepernick.

    For more on the 49ers, see Cam Inman's Hot Read blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/49ers. Follow him at twitter.com/CamInman.