It is no secret that the 49ers lack depth behind George Kittle at tight end and, in a year in which the draft class at the position is deep, they are showing signs of a willingness to address that problem.
The 49ers, according to Justin Melo of The Draft Network, recently met virtually with Zack Kuntz, an intriguing tight end prospect out of Old Dominion.
San Francisco has precious little in terms of dynamism among its reserve tight ends. Kuntz has the athletic gifts and the skill set to fix that.
Kuntz produced an outstanding workout at the Combine, earning a perfect Relative Athletic Score of 10, posting elite grades for his speed, explosion, and agility.
That athleticism is clear on Kuntz’s tape, which shows a pass-catcher who can be a mismatch with his size — Kuntz is a little over 6ft 6in and 255 pounds — and possesses the fluidity of movement to generate separation.
Easy money for Zack Kuntz on the corner route, finds the ball early and attacks it. pic.twitter.com/Y6AQf2Q2cE— Nicholas McGee (@nicholasmcgee24) April 4, 2023
Kuntz’s athletic ability makes him a substantial threat on seam routes, while he also can create separation through the ease with which he is able to change direction.
On top of his physical gifts, Kuntz has shown some encouraging detail as a route-runner, using head fakes effectively to fool defenders and set up double moves.
Brilliant job with the head fake from Kuntz to create separation for the TD. pic.twitter.com/3pHcp36eGj— Nicholas McGee (@nicholasmcgee24) April 4, 2023
At the catch point, Kuntz’s size is an obvious advantage. He has a substantial catch radius, but also shows the concentration as a ball tracker and consistently ensures he attacks the ball at its highest point with his hands.
It is Kuntz’s versatility and his blocking ability that may appeal most to the 49ers, however.
Kuntz lined up all over the field at Old Dominion, playing in the slot and on the outside as well as in-line, as an H-back and as a fullback.
He has shown proficiency as a blocker, often regardless of where he has lined up. Kuntz can stalk block, pull across the formation on split zone runs and stay in as an extra pass protector and pick up blitzes effectively.
Zack Kuntz starred with his athleticism at the Combine, but he's a pretty impressive blocker who can excel in-line and blocking in space. Lined up as a fullback and H-back at ODU as well as at F and Y tight end. pic.twitter.com/azl89fKycz— Nicholas McGee (@nicholasmcgee24) April 4, 2023
When run blocking, Kuntz has shown the power to drive defenders away from the ball, with his success in this area a little surprising for somebody of his height.
Kuntz has inconsistencies in his game that require ironing out, most notably in how he catches the ball, as he has sporadically been guilty of trapping the ball rather than catching it cleanly. Inexperience will also be a knock on Kuntz, who has only 15 starts to his name in college.
But that paucity of starting experience also illustrates his room to grow. He has barely scratched the surface of what he can do, but has already produced plenty of encouraging flashes while operating in a varied role in college.
There is arguably no offensive coach in the NFL better than 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan at taking advantage of a player’s versatility and coaxing the best out of high-upside weapons.
So much of a player’s success at the highest level is down to the situation in which he lands. The TE2 needy Niners potentially represent an ideal situation for Kuntz, who clearly has the potential to blossom into yet another playmaker for an already stacked offense.