No. 2: Tight End Cole Hikutini
The 49ers vastly overhauled their tight end position entering this season, potentially an attempt to replace incumbents like Garrett Celek and Blake Bell. And the team moved veteran tight end Vance McDonald, via a trade, to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The competition is open, to say the least.
Amid the mix is UDFA tight end Cole Hikutini out of Louisville.
Hikutini, 6-foot-4 and 247 pounds, could easily be the best pure pass catcher at this position for San Francisco. His stable hands resulted in 50 catches for 668 yards and eight touchdowns his senior year.
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But while Hikutini wins in the passing game, his blocking abilities are less than adequate.
At best, Hikutini would be a fringe player on the back end of this position for the Niners. And No. 3 tight ends typically are required to hold their own in the blocking aspect of things.
Hikutini’s chances to make the 53-man roster increased by parting ways with McDonald.
Yet that doesn’t eliminate another piece of competition, Garrett Celek. Celek’s experience probably goes a bit further than Hikutini’s value, especially in the blocking game. So it’s likely Celek stays.
And Hikutini winds up being a developmental player on the practice squad.