Ross Dwelley had an uphill battle in 2018 to make the squad and he made the most of it. Getting cut at the initial 53-man roster, Dwelley came in when the 49ers were leaning on Cole Hikutini as their tight end prospect. Hikutini lost a practice squad bidding war to start 2018 and Dwelley was kept on the PS until October when getting activated.
He caught both passes thrown to him for 14 yards. That’s about it on his stat sheet. Clearly, Dwelley took the backseat to the George Kittle show in 2018, but Garrett Celek was nursing a broken thumb and still was seen as the No. 2 tight end. The majority of Dwelley’s snaps came on special teams where he was on the field 158 times vs. his 39 times on offense.
The depth chart has a new face in Kaden Smith and a healed Celek. Dwelley has an uphill battle in front of him.
Experience: Second season
He is entering his second year of a two-year deal which pays him a salary of $570,000.
How he can improve
Dwelley’s biggest issue in 2018 was his blocking ability or lack thereof. His limited snap counts didn’t display much but his blocking was still in dire need of an improvement. By far he saw the field the most against the final game against the Los Angeles Rams—but he didn’t block for much. Not counting the Oakland Raiders or the Rams, he hasn’t gotten more than five snaps in any game appearing in. So there’s not much to really gauge on improvement.
How he can regress
Dwelley got some great NFL experience and an idea of what he needs to take into the offseason. Despite that experience, his speed and toughness may not have increased enough to where he can be on the field during crucial snaps. He isn’t offering much of a reason for the 49ers to keep him around unless his blocking improves as well as his speed.
Odds of making the roster
Dwelley got on the roster thanks to injuries and inept tight ends last year. In 2019, the 49ers have Smith behind Celek and Kittle. Can Dwelley crack things and bump someone as the third tight end. Can he produce where the 49ers want to keep four tight ends on the roster?
Doubtful. The drafting of Smith is indicative of Dwelley. He most likely will be headed to the practice squad this year unless his offseason had major improvements.