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y2lamanaki

Training Camp Battle - TE

The Battle at TE  

11 members have voted

  1. 1. Who wins the starting TE job?

    • Garrett Celek
      0
    • Cole Hikutini
      0
    • George Kittle
    • Vance McDonald
    • Other (let us know in a reply!)
      0
  2. 2. Which tight ends don't make the 2017 49ers?

    • Blake Bell
    • Garrett Celek
    • Cole Hikutini
    • George Kittle
      0
    • Vance McDonald
    • Logan Paulsen


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Next up on offense - the tight end position. 

Garrett Celek

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Coming out of 2015, Celek looked like the best tight end on the team (certainly not an irreplaceable one, but the best one) and many expected him to capture the starting role in 2016. However, Celek played pretty poorly when given the opportunity. He may have set career highs for receptions and receiving yardage, but his catch percentage decreased and he was among the league leaders in drops (which is not exactly a good thing with so few targets). With the TE competition pretty much being wide open, Celek could feasibly win the job with an impressive camp and preseason. On the flip side, an unimpressive camp could land him on unemployment. 

 

Cole Hikutini

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Hikutini signed with the team after going undrafted. Still, he's one of the undrafted guys to watch with a pretty good shot at making the roster. As already indicated, this battle is pretty wide open, and Hikutini proved to be a really good receiving tight end in college. A bowl game injury and a poor Pro Day performance when he wasn't 100% healthy contributed to Hikutini going undrafted. Still, he had a lot of offers from teams and chose the 49ers who were willing to offer a significant amount of guaranteed money for an undrafted player. After finishing his senior year with a 50/668/8 stat line, Hikutini comes to the team as the most prolific single-college-season of any of the guys on the roster. 

 

George Kittle

062417-Kittle-TB.jpg

Kittle comes to the team in 2016 as the only draft pick at the position by the current front office, which certainly makes him just about the only player in the competition guaranteed of a roster spot. At Iowa, Kittle was often overlooked in respect to the passing game, and that likely contributed to his availability in the 5th round. However, once he began practicing with the team, Kittle has stood out in a big way for his soft hands and receiving abilities, and was the most impressive tight end in the offseason. In a competition this wide open, Kittle has an excellent opportunity to make a major splash in the NFL as a rookie. 

 

Vance McDonald

tempMCDONALD_00121_NO_49ERS_16_1--nfl_mezz_1280_1024.jpg

As a 2nd round pick, Vance McDonald represents the highest drafted player at the position on the team, but he has never lived up to that selection. McDonald's main problem coming out of college was his ability to catch the ball, and his main problem in the NFL has remained that very same problem. He has one of the worst drop rates of any TE over the last few years. In a moment of organizational stupidity, the team allowed Baalke to give McDonald a ridiculous extension when they had to be certain they were going to get rid of him after the year. Instead, the team looked to move on with five years remaining this offseason. This likely represents McDonald's last chance with the team, and if he does not impress in training camp and preseason, he likely won't make the roster. 

 

The other two tight ends on the roster don't seem like they will factor into this competition. Blake Bell was a wasted 4th round pick in 2015 and has yet to show anything of note on the football field. Logan Paulsen seems very likely to make the team, but he's here for his blocking abilities and won't likely factor into the starting TE discussion. 

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Could see both McDonald and Kittle getting equal opportunities at the start depending on the plays with either Hikutini or Celek being the 3rd guy. Most likely outcome of this that we'll only have Kittle remaining next off-season imo.

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In a massive win for Vance McDonald, I am no longer adamant that he not be on the team. After pounding the table for him to be released the last 2 years, I don't care if he sticks on the team. The thing he has in his favor is that ridiculous contract that we for some reason allowed Baalke to sign him too....which was one of the dumbest things I can remember this team doing in a long time. While Vance is not good, none of the others are much, if any better, and it would cif ost us nearly twice as much to toss Vance as to keep him on the roster, so unless there's a clear reason to cut him, may as well just keep him around until next year and then cut him. I don't mind letting him go, and I may even prefer it if I were the GM - just to get a clean slate, but if he sticks, I'd prefer him as the TE2 . 

Kittle is the guy that I'm hoping will start and get most of the opportunities. Yes, there will be some growing pains, but I think he's in a strong position to get good quality playing time and grow as a player in this first year. 

TE3 is a tough one. Paulsen makes the most sense as a blocking tight end and he was a target of this regime. So I think he's got the leg up. 

Cole's making the team will hinge on what we do with Vance, I think. If we cut or trade him, I like his chances of making the roster. If we keep Vance, I like Cole's chances of winding up on IR with some mysterious phalange injury. He's not really a game breaking type tight end - I see him as more of a zone buster type, so I don't think that he has the physical ability right now to force his way on the roster. 

I was a Celek supporter for a couple of years (well, at least in comparison to Vance). I didn't see much, if any difference between the two of them. They tested weirdly similar athletically, and prior to last year, Celek, while never to be confused with a receiver with great hands, had displayed a superior ability in the receiving game in my opinion. But he's always been just a guy. As an UDFA, he's far exceeded whatever could have been expected of him, but he's probably maxed out and he's really just a guy. I see almost no shot he makes the team. Blake Bell was a complete and total bust and I'm shocked he's even made it this far into the new regime. 

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I hope Vance gets it together this year. He has promise just needs to hold onto the ball. He's a frustrating player to watch.

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Can Vance McDonald improve from what he's been the last couple years in this new system? Yes, I think he can. He's toolsy, and doesnt have to be a #1 TE as a lot of people have mentioned. Kittle is going to be our #1 TE option by Week 4 and Juice will be a guy who's on the field more than Vance too. 

That said if Kittle and Hikutini/Paulsen come out this preseason and put up big numbers while Vance struggles or gets hurt again then cut him loose. We dont need him sitting on the bench as a #3 behind two rookies and a dinosaur.

I think with the roster at 90 through all of preseason we see more guys released and free agents brought in to see in action. I can see Blake Bell and Celek getting cut and Larry Donnell or Gary Barnidge brought in for example. Why not if we know Bell is getting cut preseason week 1? 

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36 minutes ago, 48 1/2ers said:

I think with the roster at 90 through all of preseason we see more guys released and free agents brought in to see in action. I can see Blake Bell and Celek getting cut and Larry Donnell or Gary Barnidge brought in for example. Why not if we know Bell is getting cut preseason week 1? 

Interesting thought. I'm not opposed (especially with guys like Bell who don't have practice squad eligibility). It will definitely be interesting to see how teams handle the 90-man rosters all preseason. That 4th preseason game might give a few extra players a chance they might not have otherwise had. Even with 90 men through the first 3 games, many players play maybe only a couple snaps in the 4th quarter and get cut without getting real consideration. These guys might get to see some extended looks in that 4th game and maybe win practice squad jobs they might not have seen otherwise. 

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Not sure if other TEs were mixed in, but it looks very possible that we may have an entirely new TE roster. 

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16 minutes ago, y2lamanaki said:

Not sure if other TEs were mixed in, but it looks very possible that we may have an entirely new TE roster. 

I said it in the tight end thread, I wouldn't mind this, especially just to go with a clean slate. However, I don't really see the point in releasing Vance (yes, we can afford the cap hit, but if we could also use it as roll over), even though I really dislike him as a player and have been advocating his release for 2 years (I still don't get how we could allow Baalke to give that contract out a couple of months before we canned him). Personally...I don't see why we guarantee Paulsen a spot if I'm Shanny. I know that he's a solid blocker, but in a weird twist of fate, so is Vance (I say it's weird because he was a non-blocker slot tight end in college). Personally, I think right now I'd keep Kittle (starter), Vance (back up, blocker), and Cole (TE3). 

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1 minute ago, y2lamanaki said:

Is this bad for Paulsen or McDonald, or do we keep 4 TEs?

From what I can tell, McDonald seems to be having the better camp, and admittedly, does have the better upside. You can't even say that Paulsen has a better place as the blocking tight end because that's something that Vance seems to do very well. I think it'll come down to whether or not we can trade Vance. He has some value as a player in a trade, more so than Paulsen, but his contract may not be ideal. Any team taking him on is looking about 4.5 million on the books this season, which is actually more than a team like Baltimore has available, and I"m not sure who else would be willing to acquire him. If Vance is outplaying Paulsen, then I think it needs to be bad for Paulsen, and I have to believe that Shanny and company would be willing to let their guy (Paulsen) go. 

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Just get rid of the guy. I was probably the last guy on his bandwagon but enough is enough. 

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I have to imagine that if he isn't traded (and I find that unlikely), he's just going to get cut now. Cole hasn't always been a standout, but I haven't heard about him making bad plays or having major issues. It'll be a young tight end receiving corps, but who cares. We are a rebuilding team. 

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5 minutes ago, Forge said:

I have to imagine that if he isn't traded (and I find that unlikely), he's just going to get cut now. Cole hasn't always been a standout, but I haven't heard about him making bad plays or having major issues. It'll be a young tight end receiving corps, but who cares. We are a rebuilding team. 

Not sure it makes much sense to cut him if a trade doesn't materialize, I don't think he is worse than Paulsen and Celek. Might as well give him the chance to shine a little bit in Shanny's offense to create a bit of a trade value. Can't get any worse anyway.

 

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