Niner Noise rolls on with our annual “Who Is?” series on San Francisco 49ers players this year. And in this installment, we look at rookie undrafted free agent, fullback Tyler McCloskey.
The San Francisco 49ers didn’t bring aboard former Houston fullback Tyler McCloskey to be a long-term addition for the franchise.
No, the team signed Kyle Juszczyk to fill this role.
But McCloskey, a converted linebacker who saw time as both fullback and tight end, provides a unique weapon and necessary insurance for San Francisco this upcoming training camp and preseason.
The 6-foot-2, 245-pound McCloskey started off his collegiate career at linebacker before making the switch to offense. Used solely as a lead blocker and a receiving weapon at times, McCloskey finished his college days with 406 receiving yards and five touchdowns:
It’s important to note head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense requires a fullback, so one could understand why the Niners picked McCloskey up as an undrafted free agent.
He’s an insurance policy in case Juszczyk goes down, and to prevent it altogether.
But what else does San Francisco have in McCloskey?
Let’s take a look.
Why He’ll Improve
There isn’t a lot of info on McCloskey, which isn’t surprising for a fullback.
His size most likely prevents him from ever serving as an NFL-level tight end, and the 49ers are already stockpiled at that position anyway.
Instead, McCloskey’s primary role will remain at fullback.
Being able to double as a receiving weapon does give Shanahan some unique options though. The rookie’s experience lining up in various tight end-like formations should mean he could do a bit more than just serve as a traditional blocker in basic I-formations.
And those four touchdowns scored his senior year might be an enticing stat, especially for a non-traditional offensive weapon.
Why He’ll Regress
McCloskey’s smallish frame costs him as a mismatch, as 6-foot-2 TE/FB hybrids aren’t traditionally viewed as serious offensive threats.
By comparison, Juszczyk is 6-foot-1 and 240 pounds though, so we have to let this stand where it is.
Yet Juszczyk wins with his unique ability, physicality and relative speed.
What hurts McCloskey is his 4.91 40-yard time at his pro day — not horrid for a pure fullback, but not the kind of numbers one would want from a receiving tight end.
What to Expect in 2017
The 49ers likely signed McCloskey as a primary fullback to take over when Juszczyk gets his first-team reps in training camp and the preseason. Juszczyk was one of San Francisco’s biggest offseason free-agent prizes, so they’ll want to keep him healthy and fresh.
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But Shanahan will still use fullback formations this preseason, so that’s where we should expect McCloskey to see some action.
It’s not likely the Niners use a practice squad spot on McCloskey when the preseason is finished. Rather it’s probable they cut him when formulating the 53-man roster.
Unless McCloskey shows some unique talent during camp and in exhibition games, look for him to be searching for a new team in September.