The 2013 Senior Bowl goes down a little later today, but the importance of the event surrounds the week of practice leading up to the game. We'll have an open thread at 12:30 PT with some links back to our earlier Senior Bowl content for your viewing pleasure when the game kicks off at 1:00 p.m. PT. For now though, the speculation is picking up steam down in Mobile.
Matt works for Bleacher Report, but some of you longer-time readers might remember him from his brief time writing here at NN during the early days of the site. He writes a broad range of NFL content now, but he primarily focuses on the NFL Draft. He was down in Mobile, Alabama and has a solid network of contacts.
The 49ers tight end situation will be an interesting one this offseason. Delanie Walker is a free agent after this season. The coaches have always been high on his ability to do a little bit of everything, but he also struggles with drops on some of the easier passes his way.
If a team is looking for tight end help, it will be interesting to see how the market establishes itself. We know the 49ers will not go crazy when it comes to how they value their free agents. WR Josh Morgan was a good example of that last season.
Zach Ertz was Stanford's leading receiver this past season, hauling in 69 catches for 898 yards and six touchdowns. Jim Harbaugh knows a thing or two about Ertz, and even though Harbaugh was gone the last two seasons, you know he likely had an eye on Stanford. Ertz is a guy who can do great work in route running and gaining separation, but also needs to work on his blocking a bit.
If Walker does walk, tight end could move up the 49ers need list, particularly given how Coach Harbaugh and Coach Roman like to use the tight ends in a variety of ways. Stanford has two tight ends of note in this draft with Ertz being the high profile option, and Levine Toilolo being an interesting later option. Toilolo is a monster of a man, standing 6-8 and weighing 265 pounds. He was a solid red zone threat for Stanford, catching 24 passes for 393 yards and four touchdowns.
The 49ers will add a tight end or two this offseason, even if Walker leaves. However, where they address that position is entirely up in the air. It could be an early round pick, or it could be all the way down in undrafted free agency. The word on the street could be legit, or it could be falsely created buzz to throw other teams off. We'll get an idea of things once Delanie Walker's situation is figured out. Beyond that, we'll have to wait until late April.