Each year, we like to run a series of posts called "90-in-90." The idea is that we'll take a look at every player on the roster, from the very bottom to the top and break them down a few ways. This roster will certainly change, and some days we'll have more than one so it's not exactly 90 players in 90 days. At this point, it's a name we're keeping around for street cred.
The tight end position, as noted by Fooch in the Derek Carrier writeup, is obviously dominated at the top by Vernon Davis and Vance McDonald. Once Davis satisfies his "brand," he'll be the starter and McDonald will get more time to groom as the backup. Then there's the aforementioned Carrier, and Garrett Celek.
Celek was the No. 3 tight end heading into last season, though he did sustain an injury that forced him out of four games. So he played in 12 games total, and had just ... four passes go his direction. He caught two of them for 38 yards, and he had a fumble, which isn't good.
Still, it's not surprising to see him get so few looks with Davis and McDonald on the team. He was still the third tight end on the field, and the 49ers like what he can do as a blocker. That's probably where Carrier is weakest, though come training camp, the two will likely compete for the third tight end role. My money is on Celek, who is a much-better blocker, despite Carrier's athleticism and upside.
There's not a whole lot to say about his 2013 season. The 49ers do so many different things with their blockers, it's hard to gauge when and where Celek was effective. There were few egregious mistakes, and he continued to play, so the coaching staff was obviously satisfied.
Why he might improve:
Celek is entering his third year in the league, and he's just 26 years old. He's never struck me as someone with a high ceiling, but he does what the 49ers want: block well. In that vein, if he remains healthy, he could find himself on the field early and often. Improvement is always expected for a younger player like him.
Why he might regress:
Well ... maybe after a couple years in the league it will become clear that he's just not going to catch on. It's also possible Carrier usurps him and takes his spot. If he never finds himself on the field, that would certainly qualify as regression, wouldn't it?
Odds of making the roster:
Celek isn't a guarantee by any means, but Carrier didn't show me a whole lot when he joined the full roster late last season. I think the 49ers will get what they need out of Davis and McDonald, and the next guy will be able to block, and that's Celek. Carrier is getting a full offseason with the team for the first time, and maybe that will make a difference, but I'm gonna go with a greater than 50 percent chance that Celek makes the roster.