No.3: Keeping 4 tight ends on the 49ers’ roster
Although there was reason for the 49ers to keep seven wide receivers on the roster given the team’s recent injuries at the position, the argument for retaining four tight ends on roster cut-down day is a difficult one to make.
Lynch tried — because he had to — but his half-hearted explanation fell flat:
"“We felt like there was responsibility, for George’s well-being and our team’s well-being, that we put some things around him.” -John Lynch"
It remains unclear how star tight end George Kittle will benefit from an extra tight end who will be inactive on game days, particularly since the decision forced the team to keep one fewer offensive lineman.
Keeping an extra tight end makes even less sense for a team like San Francisco, who uses a fullback at the league’s highest rate — by far. “Offensive Weapon” Kyle Juszczyk rarely leaves the field for the 49ers, tallying 20 percent of all snaps by all NFL fullbacks in 2018.
“Juice” also doesn’t exclusively play in the backfield. Last season, he lined up as a tight end on 16 percent of San Francisco’s offensive snaps, which would make him a third-string tight end on an average NFL team:
Essentially, the 49ers have five tight ends on their roster, before considering running back-turned-wide receiver Jalen Hurd’s potential at the position.
That’s a whole lot of tight ends — and then they added another TE to the team’s practice squad on Sunday. While it’s likely they’ll wise up once the season begins, San Francisco appears to be going to extreme lengths to keep one of the NFL’s top playmakers off the field.