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49ers tight ends: Better, worse, or same in 2017?

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A position by position look at the San Francisco 49ers’ roster, and whether the team is better, worse, or the same as the 2016 roster. Other positions: QB | RBWR | TEOT | OG | C | LB | CB | S

The San Francisco 49ers face a lot of questions surrounding their roster in 2017, with the new front office and coaching staff bringing numerous changes. It is going to take some time to figure out where this team stands. The team was incredibly active in free agency, and followed that with plenty of work in the 2017 NFL Draft.

With that in mind, I thought we would take a look at each position, compare it to various points last year, and consider whether the unit is better, worse, or the same compared to last year. The table includes the current group of players, and then a list of players on the 90-man roster for the first preseason game, the players on the Week 1 53-man roster, and the players on the Week 17 53-man roster. The idea is to compare this year with last year across the board. The roster changes from August to December, so I’m including three separate markers just to provide an overall view of the position last year.

We move on to the tight end position.

Tight end changes, 2016-to-2017

Current 2016 preseason 2016 - Week 1 2016 - Week 17
Current 2016 preseason 2016 - Week 1 2016 - Week 17
Vance McDonald Vance McDonald Vance McDonald Garrett Celek
George Kittle Garrett Celek Garrett Celek Je'Ron Hamm
Garrett Celek Blake Bell Blake Bell Jim Dray
Logan Paulsen Busta Anderson Je'Ron Hamm (PS) Vance McDonald (IR)
Blake Bell Je'Ron Hamm N/A Blake Bell (IR)
Cole Hikutini N/A N/A N/A

The San Francisco 49ers have had plenty of tight ends over the past couple years, but Vernon Davis’ decline and eventual trade set off a period of mediocrity within the unit. Vance McDonald has been the most talented of the group, but his inconsistency and injury issues have been maddening to say the least.

This year, the 49ers appear set to overhaul much of this group. The 49ers drafted George Kittle, signed veteran Logan Paulsen and rookie Cole Hikutini, and amidst all this, attempted to trade Vance McDonald. Kyle Shanahan might be a fan of Garrett Celek, but there is a good chance we see at least two new tight ends on the 53-man roster, and possibly three.

Reports out of the offseason workout program have been positive for Kittle. He was getting first team work, and while the team did a lot of rotation at the tight end position, it’s still a positive step forward. We’ll find out pretty quickly where he actually is on the depth chart, but for the time being, odds are pretty good he will be getting significant opportunities this fall.

This is a unit that was difficult to get much worse. There is talent between Vance McDonald, Garret Celek, and Blake Bell, but nothing ever really emerged with any sort of consistency. At the same time, this poll is a little more difficult than some of the other positions. We’re looking at projections for Kittle and Hikutini. There is a low bar given recent tight end play, but it is still based more on projections and hope than specific past results.

Poll

Are the 49ers better, worse, or the same at TE in 2017 as compared to 2016?

This poll is closed

  • 86%
    Better
    (982 votes)
  • 0%
    Worse
    (6 votes)
  • 12%
    Same
    (143 votes)
1131 votes total Vote Now