Reports had surfaced that the 49ers were going to sign Nate Byham and the deal is finally done. The 49ers announced yesterday that they agreed to terms on a 4-year deal with the young tight end out of the University of Pittsburgh.
I was looking over his stats and Byham was twice selected to the All-BIg East team in spite of only having 10 and 20 receptions those seasons. I'd like to think that means he brings some serious blocking abilities to the table. Looking back at his college days, Mocking the Draft had this scouting report on Byham:
Strengths: Byham is arguably the best blocking tight end in this year's draft. He's powerful playing in line and doesn't need help blockers. Smooth moving to the second level to attack linebackers. He has surprisingly soft hands and can make tough catches. He's hard to take down in the open field once he gets his momentum going. Good size and length.
Weaknesses: What keeps Byham likely in the third day of the draft is his lack of athleticism. He's pretty slow and doesn't release especially well. Doesn't get separation and need to use his body to get open. Doesn't have the best agility to make defenders miss in hte open.
Final word: Byham should have a good NFL career, but he's not a spectacular player. He's a good blocker with strength. But his receiving skills are only average.
What I find amusing about our discussions on Byham is looking back at all the talk about Bear Pascoe. It seems like Byham is a better blocker than Bear ever was, but when I checked out last year's tight end roster projection post, some of my comments/questions look rather amazing now. We were discussing whether Bear Pascoe might very well surpass Delanie Walker on the depth chart. Walker hasn't amazed anybody but Pascoe never came close to supplanting him.
In looking at our 2010 tight end roster projection post, folks seem right back on the third string TE bandwagon, with 67% thinking Byham will be on the roster. Obviously a 4-year contract means nothing in the land of non-guaranteed contracts, so I guess we'll just have to wait for reports from training camp.