Each year, we run a series of post called "90-in-90" here at Niners Nation. The idea is that we'll take a look at every single player on the roster, from the very bottom to the top and break them down a few different ways. This is to help give everyone a basic understanding of a roster. Of course, this roster will change, and some days we'll have more than one so it's not strictly one per day but you get the idea.
Garrett Celek was a blocker, and nothing more, for a long time. He stuck around with the San Francisco 49ers despite there never being quite enough room for him to actually make the roster, or quite enough room for him to be active on game day, or quite enough room for him to get any snaps on offense. He blocked and he did it well enough to just barely stick around.
Fast forward to last season, and the 49ers are so ridiculously depleted at the tight end position that Celek becomes the primary receiving option, depending on how you feel about Vance McDonald. I know there are a lot of McDonald fans here on Niners Nation, and this article isn't going to be about McDonald but I just want you to know once again that you're wrong and chasing a dead dream.
Anyway ... Celek, the receiver. Slightly more impressive than Celek, the blocker, but somehow well-liked enough to get a four-year contract extension and possibly even be the top tight end on the roster next season? It's inexplicable to me when I look at his body of work but understandable when I look at the tight end depth chart. Blake Bell and Busta Anderson are intriguing prospects but they're just that: prospects.
Celek's hands are not made of complete granite, and that's one plus compared to a certain other tight end. Passes don't hit him right in the hands and fly off randomly for no reason. He doesn't give up on his routes halfway through running them and he certainly doesn't leap to catch balls that were perfectly targeted for him to catch on the ground. Like a human.
He did catch 19 passes for 186 yards and three touchdowns last season.
But what does that even tell us? He saw limited playing time and he had limited stats. You could argue this was his first shot at being a receiver and he stood up to the task but you cold also argue that the stats were completely pedestrian even for a blocker.
The 49ers like something about Celek. I'm not sure I see it. I saw a big guy who made some good plays on an offense that was desperately crying out for somebody to stand up. He ran decent routes, he caught the ball when it was thrown to him and he bowled over guys once he got running. But he wasn't beating coverage very often and he's not exactly a speedster.
Experience: 4 accrued years
Weight: 252 lbs
Celek signed a four-year contract extension this offseason, worth $10.2 million. He received a $2.5 million signing bonus. His 2016 base salary is $1 million, fully guaranteed, and his cap hit is $1,915,625.
Why he might improve
He got a four-year contract extension. The amount is literally inconsequential, what matters is that Celek is getting his chance. The only way he doesn't factor into the offense next season is if he screws up as far as I'm concerned. Chip Kelly seems to like him. It's a new offense and a new philosophy and Celek will be given the chance to improve. It's up to him.
Why he might regress
Celek was a fringe blocking tight end for a number of years. He didn't do much in a bad 49ers offense last year and it's hard to imagine him doing much better in what will probably be a bad 49ers offense this year. He's 28 years old and has never really been considered a top-flight receiving tight end. Regression is more likely than progression from where I'm sitting.
Odds of making the roster
Whether I'm correct or just a huge idiot with no writing ability, Celek is going to be on the roster next season. It should be a crowded field of unproven tight ends and Celek will bring something not entirely unlike a veteran presence to the fold.