As already mentioned in the previous comments, 49ers tight end Nate Byham has gone down with a torn ACL that likely means the end of his second season. A sixth round pick last year, Byham emerged as a viable third tight end behind Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker. He could block, he could catch a few passes, and his versatility allowed the 49ers to mix him into a variety of roles, including that of fullback.
Now he's finished for the season and the 49ers have a new training camp battle to watch. Losing the third tight end is not the end of the world, but in this west coast style of offense, it will at least have some impact. Accordingly, the guys further down the tight end depth chart that were likely going to be cut or end up on the practice squad suddenly have new life.
Konrad Reuland and Colin Cloherty are the two options for now as the third tight end. The 49ers have plenty of cap space to bring in another tight end to compete, but who knows if that will happen anytime soon. For now we operate under the assumption that Cloherty and Reuland will be the two options.
Cloherty has the advantage of two years in the NFL, although it's been fairly limited as he has one career reception. One could view his two years as a negative since he hasn't been picked up yet for an extended amount of time. Konrad Reuland was signed this year as an undrafted free agent out of Stanford. He has the benefit of having worked with Jim Harbaugh already. In his final season at Stanford, Reuland caught 21 passes for 209 yards and a touchdown.
I did a quick search and found a couple scouting reports on Reuland. Those who watched Stanford with some regularity are welcome to provide their own thoughts on Reuland.
Strengths: Big, tall tight end who uses his body well to wall off defenders on his routes to secure receptions. Looks the ball into his hands well. Locks onto defenders once he gets his hands on them. Good strength at the POA, as he can create lanes for the ball carrier to run through.
Weaknesses: An adequate athlete, but he will struggle to separate in his routes and lacks the athleticism to go up and come down with the ball. Not much of a threat in the open field once he secures the ball.
Positive: Nice sized tight end who is best as a blocker. Quickly gets off the line, stays square, and is strong at the point of attack. Works to bend his knees, shows good vision, and stays with assignments. Blocks down well on opponents. Uses his hands to get separation from opponents and effectively adjusts to the errant throw catching the ball.
Negative: Displays marginal quickness. Fights the ball and unnecessarily lets passes get inside him. Not fluid in his movements.
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