The San Francisco 49ers made a big change at tight end this past season, trading Vance McDonald in late August. The team drafted George Kittle, who took over the starting role initially. We ended up seeing some maneuvering in the depth chart, with Garrett Celek getting some starting work as well. Kittle was the more productive of the two, but both got a lot of work.
Free agency is mostly wrapped up, and the 49ers tight end depth chart still has some questions. Kittle and Celek could end up again with the most playing time, but there is no clear third option. Cole Hikutini spent the season between the practice squad, the 53-man roster, and IR. The team also brings Cole Wick and Malcolm Johnson to the offseason workout program.
There has been some chatter the New England Patriots might deal Rob Gronkowski, but that seems like idle chatter at this point. And given he may or may not retire in the next year or two, that represents a solution for offseason boredom more than anything else.
At this point, what’s next at the position. George Kittle is a lock, but I can’t imagine anybody else is fully secure in their role. Garrett Celek is strong bubble for now, but given how quickly the 49ers have been willing to unload veterans, I don’t see him as a lock at this point.
Which brings us to the 2018 NFL Draft. Dallas Goedert has been mentioned as the first off the board, but how early would the 49ers look at a tight end? We’ve seen Kyle Shanahan’s willingness to move players around outside of just a singular role. Do we see a potential Joker type option added to the mix? Hikutini is an intriguing athlete, but has a lot of work in front of him.
So where exactly would you put the tight end position in terms of priority?