April (2): George Kittle, Kaden Smith
Mid-preseason (3): George Kittle, Ross Dwelley, Kaden Smith
Apparently I had a lot more faith in rookie sixth-round pick Kaden Smith right after the draft, but the former Stanford tight end hasn’t done much so far to show he’s capable of being the only non-George Kittle tight end on the roster.
Ross Dwelley, however, has come seemingly out of nowhere to surprise everyone — even himself — as an early favorite to be Kittle’s primary backup.
His lack of involvement in the offense so far in the preseason (one target and one catch against Dallas, no targets against Denver) is interesting in light of that. But Kyle Shanahan appears to take more stock in practice sessions than preseason games anyway.
Smith makes it here because the 49ers might think it unlikely he would clear waivers and make it back to the team, and he’s shown the coaches enough during training camp to warrant his placement on the roster. His showing good signs as an improved blocker won’t hurt his case, either.
The focal point of this group remains Kittle, however, and the role of both Dwelley and Smith will be to give Shanahan the ability to show multiple looks out of heavy sets, something both are capable of doing this season.