The San Francisco 49ers were adamant that they wanted to upgrade at tight end this offseason. From making a run at Browns’ TE Austin Hooper to meeting with former Washington tight end Jordan Reed’s agent, who played under Kyle Shanahan. Eventually, the 49ers ended up drafting tight end Charlie Woerner, who is more of a threat as a blocker than he is a pass-catcher.
While Reed can still be brought in on a minimum contract, the 49ers were content moving forward with Ross Dwelley backing up George Kittle. Dwelley finished with a PFF grade of 57.0 in 2019. We shouldn’t take their grades as gospel, but that gives you an idea of Dwelley and what he brought to the table. Many fans were upset, or curious as to why the Niners would want to move on from Dwelley, who finished 2019 with 15 receptions for 91 yards and two touchdowns. Again, it’s not that Dwelley is a bad player. If Kyle Shanahan gets you the ball 15 times, you’re going to want more than 39 yards after the catch. Dwelley didn’t force one missed tackle all season, which is why we’re having this conversation.
Age: 25 (birthday is on January 26)
Accrued seasons: Two
Dwelley’s option was picked up in March as an ERFA. In 2021, Dwelley will be a restricted free agent. Dwelley’s base salary in 2020 will be $750,000.
How he can improve
As mentioned above, Dwelley needs to do a better job of taking advantage of his opportunities. There won’t be a whole lot of those this season, but with the talent around him, defenses will welcome any target that goes Dwelley’s way. Shanahan did a nice job of scheming him open last year, whether it was down the field or on some sort of throwback play. Now, Dwelley can make someone miss and turn a five-yard gain into an eight-yard gain. That’s all I’m asking.
When Dwelley filled in for Kyle Juszczyk, his effort was outstanding. Dwelley played about as well as you can for someone that hadn’t played fullback in the NFL. He rose to the occasion when called upon. If the 49ers are going into 2020 with Dwellley as their TE2, hopefully he can accept the challenge of taking his game to another level.
Odds of making the roster
Dwelley isn’t going anywhere. Dwelley played 550 snaps last year. Most of those came at tight end, but down the stretch and in the playoffs, Dwelley played on all special teams as well.