Here at Niners Nation, we're presenting a series called "90-in-90". We'll be looking at every player on the San Francisco 49ers offseason roster, one player per post, from now until the start of training camp.
While the second and third string tight ends on most NFL teams aren't that important or utilized much, the same can't be said about the 49ers backup tight ends. The 49ers drafted Rice product Vance McDonald in the second round to replace Delanie Walker, who is now a Tennessee Titan. That relegates Garrett Celek to tight end number three again this season if rookie Vance McDonald can take the reigns of No. 2 tight end.
Celek is going into his sophomore season in the pros and a lot about his game as a receiving tight end is still to be determined. Last season Celek was very raw as a receiver and had a hard time gaining separation from the defender. Although he has many things to work on, his blocking was stellar for an undrafted rookie, Greg Roman and company hand picked themselves a fine blocking tight end. Even before Celek was a pro, he was known for his exceptional blocking opposed to his ball skills. In his career at Michigan State he hauled in just 14 receptions and 3 touchdowns. Don't call Celek just a blocking tight end though, he's trying to improve as a receiver and put up better numbers than his brother, Philadelphia Eagles tight end Brent Celek.
What to expect in 2013
Don't expect any numbers to stand out on a stat sheet, expect to watch some game film if you want to truly know how Celek is doing, because he's going to be knocking the tar out of some people when he's called on to block. If Celek is doing well, it means Frank Gore found a big hole to run through, or Colin Kaepernick is being protected in the pocket. He could contribute catching the football, which is what any tight end truly wants to go, but the more likely scenario is for him to be a factor on running downs and in pass protection.
Will he progress or regress?
What Celek is called on to do is block first, everything else is a welcomed bonus. Vernon Davis told 49ers.com he doesn't think you should count Celek out as a receiving threat. "All he needs to do is continue to do everything he did last year - observe, pay attention, study and work hard, the sky's the limit." said Davis. If the sky really is the limit and you buy into what Vernon is selling, we should be optimistic he can become a better route runner and haul in more catches this season. I believe Celek will be better than last season, but by how much? A skill set such as Celek's is one that doesn't regress at twenty five years old, he's getting stronger which will help him block, and he can only improve as a receiver.
Odds of making the roster
Celek will definitely be on the roster. He doesn't face any true competition for his spot, and it is a big plus that he is acclimated to the 49ers offense. A better question would be the odds of Celek getting a touchdown this season?