49ers have major question marks at tight end

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Once a strength of the team, it’s now safe to say that the San Francisco 49ers have absolutely no idea what they’re going to get out of their tight ends in 2015. As the team is faced with more questions than answers, training camp will be vital to many of the candidates vying for playing time.

Here’s a look at who’s on the roster and where they currently stand.

Vernon Davis

Davis is coming off his worst season in the NFL, as he set career lows in yards (245), yards per catch (9.4) and touchdowns (2). It’s hard to believe that his play could deteriorate so much so quickly, as he was coming off a season in which he gained 850 yards and scored 13 times.

It’s entirely possible that leg and back injuries were more of a problem than Davis let on. It’s also fair to say that the dysfunction and general ineffectiveness that plagued the entire offense may have played a role.

Either way, Davis appears healthy and rejuvenated and is a safe bet to bounce back in the final year of his contract. If he doesn’t, the 49ers have a major problem as there isn’t much proven ability behind him.

Vance McDonald

In 23 career regular season games, McDonald has only caught 10 of the 26 targeted passed that have come his way (38 percent). He’s never caught more than a single pass in any one game and never scored a touchdown.

The production is disappointing any way you look at it, but more so because San Francisco pegged the Rice University product to be Davis’ eventual replacement when they selected him in the second round of the 2013 draft.

Just two short years later, McDonald isn’t even guaranteed a roster spot, and is in serious jeopardy of not making the team if he doesn’t have a strong camp.

Derek Carrier

There is some excitement around Carrier, who was recently given a three-year contract for just under $3 million. While he hasn’t seen the field much, Carrier has shown flashes of being able to make plays when given the opportunity.

He caught nine passes on 14 targets in 2014 (64 percent), and it’s not out of the question that he could leap McDonald on the depth chart. However, his lack of experience (only 16 career games) makes him a question mark moving forward.

Garrett Celek

Celek has played sparingly during his three years with the team, and only has eight receptions. If he remains with the franchise, it will most likely be in the third tight end/blocking role he’s played throughout his career.

Blake Bell/Rory Anderson

Considering the amount of uncertainty, it shouldn’t have come as a shock that the 49ers took two tight ends in the 2015 draft.

Bell is a converted quarterback and while he has potential, is certainly a project. At 6’6, he’ll be a big target in the passing game, and could be a redzone threat right away. The team selected him in the fourth round, which gives the indication that they believe the ceiling is high enough that he could eventually develop into a significant piece of the offense.

Anderson was an intriguing selection as his combination of athleticism and speed could prove to be a matchup problem for defenses. If he shows an ability to make plays right away, he could be a dark horse candidate for a roster spot. 

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Al Sacco

Al Sacco is sports expert who knows football, baseball, basketball and hockey. He has spent his time as a sports journalist covering the San Francisco 49ers as a contributor to 49erswebzone.com and Ninerfans.com. He's been a guest on numerous podcasts and has had his work used on ESPN NFL Insiders and USA TODAY.


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