No. 2: Tight End Garrett Celek
2020 Unrestricted Free Agent
Like Sheldon Day, it might be a bit odd to think of an extension this early for a player likely to be no more than a backup.
But in the case of veteran tight end Garrett Celek, it’s a wise move.
True, Celek ended up starting 13 games last season, although he’ll likely be bumped to the No. 2 TE spot behind second-year pro George Kittle in 2018. And Celek’s 2017 numbers weren’t even career highs.
So how can one justify an extension for a player, 30 years old, already scheduled to make as much as $5.4 million over the next two years?
The reason is diving into where Celek wins, and it’s not based on the stats alone.
Read Optional’s Oliver Connelly recently broke down all of Celek’s hidden strengths and the means by which the veteran is thriving under head coach Kyle Shanahan. An excerpt reads:
"He has good size, good speed and decent hops; he’s by no means a freak in the sporting sense of the word. Perhaps more importantly, he has a great football brain. That’s important against man-coverage, particularly for tight ends who are bombarded with a series of option routes. Those are, however, traditionally easy equations … Against zone-coverage things are a tad trickier. There’s more options. It’s easy to say find space and go sit in it. After all, that’s essentially the aim of the game. But that doesn’t account for late rotations, bluffs, or any number of zone blitzes. Perhaps that’s the spot on the field the defense wants me to sit in? The best tight ends just have an intuition for this stuff. Celek has it."
What Celek has shown already lends to the idea the 49ers could boast a tremendous one-two punch at the position — something they haven’t had since the days of tight ends Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker earlier this decade.
Why not make the move this season?