The San Francisco 49ers tight end position was as deep as any when they reported to training camp. Three months into the season, few positions have less depth. The team traded multiple tight ends in training camp, they then traded Vernon Davis during the season, Garrett Celek is on injured reserve with an ankle injury, and Vance McDonald is going through the concussion protocol. This has left Blake Bell as the only healthy tight end on the roster.
Offensive coordinator Geep Chryst discussed the position during his Thursday press conference, and we had some updates that shed some light on the plans for this Sunday. According to Cam Inman, Vance McDonald took part in the team's morning walkthrough practice. The formal injury report reflects the afternoon practice, so we will have to wait and see what news comes from that. But this is a good sign for McDonald.
Chryst said that Kilgore would get reps at the center position this Sunday, which means he likely would not be relied on as an extra tight end. If McDonald cannot play, the team would definitely promote one of their practice squad tight ends. If McDonald can play, we still may seem them promote an extra tight end.
Chryst was asked about practice squad tight end Brian Leonhardt. Chryst talked about his work with tight ends coach Tony Sparano, and specifically mentioned how they were trying to ramp him up quickly. Chryst also joked about how a large number of defensive players volunteer themselves thinking they can play tight end.
None of this guarantees Leonhardt or Jamie Childers gets promoted this weekend, but it seems like a strong possibility. And whether they get a promotion or not, the 49ers do still have another offensive lineman with some pass catching experience:
Oh. That's just 6'5", 315lb. @49ers T Joe Staley catching a swing pass and turning upfield for 17 yards... #tbt https://t.co/ghGt2b4ely— NFL (@NFL) December 10, 2015