The San Francisco 49ers have traded Vance McDonald and a fifth round pick to the Steelers for a fourth round pick. McDonald had just signed a three year extension with an option for a fourth and fifth year. Let’s take a look at what that means for the tight end position. Those remaining on the roster are Garrett Celek, Blake Bell, Logan Paulsen, George Kittle and Cole Hikutini. (FB/OW Kyle Juszczyk gets an honorable mention)
If Jason LaCanfora is correct, the 49ers might not be done wheeling and dealing tight ends from Santa Clara. Celek could be on the block as well.
Definitely getting the sense from other teams the 49ers are still open to move another TE in the right deal. Celek a possibility— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) August 29, 2017
If you were to look at how the 49ers have used their tight ends from OTAs through the preseason, all indications point to rookie George Kittle being named the starter. After he sat out part of training camp with a hamstring injury, he bounced right back to where he had left off, getting time with the ones. He is a great blocker and pass catcher. Raheem Mostert’s 87 yard touchdown in Minneapolis was due in a large part to a block by the tight end.
UDFA Hikutini has not gotten much playing time at all and is likely headed for the practice squad. It’s almost as if they have kept him off the field to make sure he doesn’t get poached after all the hype of his signing. Hikutini has had some snaps on special teams.
Bell is another hold over from the Baalke era. He hasn’t has much production and has been buried on the depth chart getting time with the 2s and 3s this offseason. Bell’s play in special teams, however makes him more valuable. He has been among the team leaders in special teams snaps.
Logan Paulsen’s most productive years were in Washington when Kyle Shanahan was his offensive coordinator. He has been mostly working with the twos. In his six seasons he has 82 receptions for 826 yards. He is primarily a blocking tight end, which could be enough to replace Celek.
FB/OW Kyle Juszczyk is the wild card of the group. In three seasons in Baltimore he caught 97 passes for 769 yards. He only has seven rushing attempts in his career. Expect to see him moving all around the field.