One position where free agency will have a significant impact on the 49ers draft board has to be the tight end position. If Delanie Walker is re-signed, the 49ers will return all three of their tight ends from last season. If Walker walks, they would have a fairly sizable hole in the tight end rotation between Vernon Davis and Garrett Celek. I think the 49ers add a tight end at some point this offseason even if Walker re-signs, but what part of the draft, free agency or undrafted free agency they look at will change.
The tight ends have been running their 40-yard dashes today, and we have a few unofficial notable results to share. Stanford tight end Zach Ertz ran his two 40s in 4.65 and 4.72. His teammate, Levine Toilolo, ran his in 4.81 and then 4.75. While Toilolo did not run a blazing 40, we have to remember that he measured in at 6'8, 260 pounds. Ertz was the more polished of the two, but Toilolo brings some intriguing upside. 40-yard dashes and height/weight measurements do not come close to telling us everything we need to know, but they can shine the spotlight a little bit closer.
49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh was on the set of NFL Network's Friday Combine coverage after his press conference, and he had a chance to talk tight ends. He was asked about all the quality tight ends coming out of Stanford and he talked about how one year they signed five different tight ends. Aside from using a host of them in the offense, Harbaugh talked about how tight ends were in that perfect position to potentially be molded into other positions, whether it be on offense or defense. Don't forget that 49ers offensive tackle Joe Staley was originally a tight end.
The 49ers will add at least one tight end, but the final tally and what they specifically invest will depend on what happens with Delanie Walker. We'll find out more about that between now mid-March.