Monday, April 15, 2013
Questioning 49ers' need for a tight end
By Mike Sando
Abhi from Los Angeles questions perceptions that the San Francisco 49ers have a significant need at tight end.
"Last year, I was surprised that Garrett Celek was the last 49er to make the roster," he writes. "Is it reasonable that they were looking to groom him as a Delanie Walker replacement? Why does everyone think the 49ers need to draft a tight end very high (like with one of the first three picks)?"
Sando: I'm all for questioning perceptions. We've recently questioned conventional wisdom regarding the Arizona Cardinals' offensive line, the St. Louis Rams' situation at receiver and how much quarterbacks in San Francisco and Seattle rely on their legs.
I do think drafting another tight end would make sense for the 49ers. However, we should not assume San Francisco is locked into playing offense the way the team played offense when Walker was part of the mix. The coaching staff has shown an ability and even an eagerness to evolve and play to strengths.
The 49ers could have kept Walker if they thought they had to have him. The franchise tag was available to them at a one-year cost of $6.066 million. The 49ers let Walker leave and later acquired receiver Anquan Boldin at a cost of $6 million in salary for 2013.
We should expect the 49ers' offense to continue its evolution as the team builds around quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Receiver Michael Crabtree flourished when Kaepernick took over. Boldin will presumably command a significant number of targets. So will Vernon Davis.
Walker's versatility was highly unusual. It's unreasonable to think Celek or any other player would provide similar versatility. The 49ers are going to be different without Walker -- even if they draft another tight end.