Iowa’s Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson have garnered the majority of draft interest across the league, and to no one’s surprise.
Fortunately, though, this year’s class is awfully deep at the position. And while Pro Bowl tight end George Kittle‘s record-breaking 2018 campaign doesn’t suggest this is a spot of need for the 49ers, it certainly is under the surface.
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The reason being is Kyle Shanahan’s offense would actively work so much better with dual tight end threats. Kittle is already one part of the equation. But last year, No. 2 tight end Garrett Celek ended up committing more penalties (six) than receptions (five). He should no longer be viewed a factor in this offense.
His stock level has dropped a bit, thanks largely to that big tight end class. But San Jose State’s Josh Oliver would be a small-school prospect to consider here.
Oliver’s 4.63 40-yard time at the scouting combine helped that stock a bit, though, and his 22 bench-press reps of 225 pounds were tied for second among all tight ends.
What makes Oliver stick out, however, is his NFL-level route-running abilities. And if he can display those during the 49ers’ local pro day before the draft, it wouldn’t be shocking if the California native winds up being a target.