49ers’ 2018 ‘Who Is?’ series: Tight end Ross Dwelley

SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 06: A San Francisco 49ers helmet on the field at Levi's Stadium on October 6, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 06: A San Francisco 49ers helmet on the field at Levi's Stadium on October 6, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

Niner Noise looks at San Francisco 49ers undrafted free-agent tight end Ross Dwelley in our latest “Who Is?” installment, projecting his chances to make the roster in 2018.

The San Francisco 49ers all but have two of their likely three tight end spots set for 2018, with George Kittle and Garrett Celek making the 53-man cut.

But the third spot is certainly up for grabs.

One of those competing for a chance is University of San Diego’s Ross Dwelley — a 6-foot-5, 240-pound prospect the Niners grabbed as an undrafted free agent.


Dwelley, who grew up in Folsom, California, enjoyed his best collegiate season back in 2016, where he logged 843 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Landing a roster spot won’t be easy, though. He’ll be competing with other fringe tight ends, such as Cole Hikutini and Cole Wick — both of whom have NFL-level experience already.

So what’s there to know about Dwelley? Does he have a serious chance to make the cut?

We can garner some information from his Fox Sports NFL Draft scouting video below:

But let’s dive a little deeper, shall we?

Why Ross Dwelley Improves in 2018

Dwelley didn’t participate at the NFL Scouting Combine, nor does he have any pro day numbers listed.

So it’s a bit hard to gauge his potential impact aside from the scouting information that can be gathered. NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein had some nice things to say about him on Dwelley’s draft profile, though:

"Posted three years of consistent production as pass-catcher and touchdown maker. Carries decent burst to uncover and create workable separation. Plus football intelligence with a feel for route adjustments over or under linebackers in coverage. Effective in scramble situations and will work to open space for his quarterback. Hands are smooth and natural."

It appears as if Dwelley is a natural pass catcher. The stats back it up, and the route-running abilities should play well in head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense.

If Dwelley can capitalize on these, his chances should improve significantly.

Why He Regresses

Small-school pedigree aside, Dwelley offers almost nothing in blocking. Per Zierlein, his run-blocking skills are limited at best. And from what I can gather on tape, it doesn’t appear as if San Diego asked him to do much by the way of pass protection either.

San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers /

San Francisco 49ers

Third-string tight ends need to hone their blocking abilities to stand a chance. If Dwelley was a sheer mismatch nightmare, that would be one thing. But his positive attributes suggest he’s little more than a decent backup option at best.

One NFC regional scout told Zierlein, “He has some potential, but he plays way too soft right now. He has to get tougher or he won’t make it.”

Add physicality to the list of concerns too.

Chances of Making the 49ers Roster in 2019

Right now, it would appear to be slim to none. Dwelley is likely little more than a camp invitee with the potential to earn a stash placement on the practice squad.

If he flashes those abilities that earned him consideration from San Francisco in the first place.

He’ll have to outperform both Wick and Hikutini, particularly the latter, who offer up notably more in the passing game at this point in their respective careers. And that’s going to be a tall order, particularly if Dwelley’s blocking issues carry over into training camp.

Next: Predicting 3 49ers UDFAs who make 2018 roster

As such, don’t bank on Dwelley emerging as one of those “sleeper” picks the Niners lucked out on after the draft. Maybe a year or two on the practice squad will do some good, but that’s likely Dwelley’s peak.