It appears that Celek Time was was only the briefest moments before fading away. The man known as Celek Time returned to Garrett Celek who is our subject today.
The 49ers had no answers at the tight end position. It was George Kittle, Celek, and then whoever else they could sign/available UDFAs. In 2018, the tight ends behind Celek were lackluster; dropping touchdown passes the chief problem. Celek wasn’t too far behind. He failed to cross 100 receiving yards for the first time since 2014 and had a paltry five receptions compared to 2017’s 21.
Some of this is to blame for a broken thumb that Celek suffered. But broken or not, at the end of the season, Celek still couldn’t do much. This of course may have led to the 49ers drafting Stanford tight end Kaden Smith, as well as the speculation that wide receiver Jalen Hurd could be used as a tight end as well.
All that said, Celek is not a bad tight end, just underwhelming. And if the jump from 2017 to 2018 is any indication, inconsistent as well. Given the age/production of the tight ends behind him, he should have one more year to produce. It’s the last season on his contract, afterall. But the 49ers are clearly looking to get younger and cheaper at the position.
The 49ers got as much as they could out of another UDFA. That’s for sure.
Age: 30 (turns 31 on May 29)
Experience: 7th season
He is entering the final year of a four-year agreement paying him $1.7 million. If cut before June 1st, the 49ers will have a cap savings of $2,078,125.
What to expect in 2019
The tight end position begins with George Kittle, but it won’t be ending with Celek like it has in the past. Expect to see more of the same out of Celek, but an even less snap count as Kaden Smith will get some needed playing time.
Given that he is removed from that nagging thumb injury in 2018, Celek should have a bit more of a presence in the pass-game and take some pressure off George Kittle in dual tight-end sets. He won’t return to his 2017 numbers (21 receptions, 356 yards, four touchdowns), but we’ll at least see him crack a bill in terms of yardage. The 49ers have other tight ends with higher ceilings and will look for any excuses to get them on the field to develop.
Odds of making the roster
The 49ers tight end position has been a thin one and that isn’t changing much in 2019. They have gotten a third tight end in Smith who could become No. 2 by season’s end which removes third string releases/sits they had last year. Hurd also could be used in a swiss army-knife-like role as well. So that’s three bodies behind Kittle, two of which are no doubt going to be tight ends. Celek will be on the roster for his inexpensive salary, experience, and the 49ers depth of the position unless a UDFA and Smith combine to outplay him at training camp, but even then it’s doubtful. The 49ers take a larger dead money hit after June 1, meaning if they had no desire to keep Celek on a roster, they’d have released him by now. He could still be outplayed and removed in roster cuts, but it’s unlikely. All that said, this very well could be his last season in a 49ers uniform.