Well, this is interesting. 49ers tight end coach Jon Embree met with the media and was asked a question about how he teaches hand position. He gave a generic answer, but what’s interesting is how he teaches the tight ends to catch the ball with their hands instead of their body:
“Keep harping on it, I fine em every time he jumps or lets the ball get on his body. He just puts the ball into our little kitten. You just keep doing that and driving it home. When he plays catch out here with the guys, always emphasize catching the ball away from his body.”
I believe the “He” Embree refers to is Cole Hikutini, but there’s no confirmation since the video starts late. I do find it interesting the 49ers have a ‘swear jar’ of sorts for body catching. I’m sure it’s nothing that substantive, but all I can think of is a similar thing happening in an episode of the Simpsons where Homer has to use a swear jar. He winds up dumping enough money in it to where he doesn’t have to build a doghouse and just buy one—the whole reason the swear jar came up in the first place.
It’s nice to see the 49ers emphasizing hand catches vs body catches. As great as Vernon Davis was for the team years ago, he had a nasty habit of attempting body catches which usually wound up in drops that could have led to huge gains. It was maddening and a huge blemish on what otherwise was one of the better tight ends the 49ers had in quite some time.
As far as Embree, it’s a pretty brief interview, but I have timestamps of it below if you want to go check it out. You can watch it here.
00:00 - How to teach hand position/fines
00:45 - Tight ends as red zone threats
01:30 - Cole Hikutini’s development