The San Francisco 49ers have their entire tight end depth chart returning in 2015, but that will not stop the team from considering some younger options. The 49ers met with Clive Walford at the Senior Bowl and then had a formal sitdown with him at the NFL Combine. Earlier this month, they added another tight end into the mix. According to Charean Williams, the 49ers met with Texas A&M tight end Cameron Clear at his Pro Day.
Maxx Williams is the big tight end name in this year's NFL Draft, with Walford looking like the second tight end to come off the board next month. Our own Nick Chiamardas ranked Walford as the No. 2 tight end, and ESPN and CBS have done likewise. Clear on the other hand, is barely on the radar. CBS did not include him, while ESPN had him in UDFA territory. NFL.com went so far as to say there were some rumors NFL teams might consider turning the 6'5, 277 pound tight end into a tackle.
Clear is not a guy who would be viewed as a big time option, but could end up a camp invite. Walford joins Williams as one of a short list of potential candidates for a serious opportunity. The 49ers might be bringing back all their tight ends, but that does not mean there are no questions. Vernon Davis is coming off his worst year as a pro, Vance McDonald has a serious back injury that cost him much of the season. Garrett Celek had his own back issues, and Derek Carrier ended up on IR.
McDonald is the most concerning. He has struggled to get going in his NFL career, and a back injury is always a scary injury. In his recent chat, Matt Maiocco briefly mentioned McDonald. He was asked if Ahmad Brooks or Vernon Davis might end up being released or traded. In addressing Davis, MM said, "The 49ers really don't have a No. 2 tight end with concerns over Vance McDonald's future due to how his back will hold out."
The 49ers begin their offseason workout program next week, with two weeks of strength and conditioning work, as well as rehab for injured players. After that, the team gets into football school, and we get a better handle on who is available. Things advance to padded and contact work as we move into OTAs and then training camp. Barring the unforeseen, that is when we'll get a better handle on Vance McDonald's back. Ideally he recovers fine and is ready to take a step forward this fall. Of course, we know "ideally" has been hard to come by at times this offseason.