No. 3: Tight End Ross Dwelley
Those alone could have been disastrous if it weren’t for some exceptional fill-in play from second-year tight end Ross Dwelley.
As long as Juszczyk stays healthy, Dwelley should be able to focus on his role as the team’s No. 2 option behind Kittle at the position. That’s fine, especially considering Dwelley came up with some big plays when Kittle was banged up with knee and ankle injuries.
But Dwelley’s importance goes beyond just being a reserve option. The Niners play the Los Angeles Rams and Seahawks in Weeks 16 and 17, respectively, and both of those opponents could easily be gunning for playoff seeding against San Francisco. It would be foolish for either squad not to make guarding Kittle a top priority in their defensive game plans, meaning there’s likely to be a key moment or two when Dwelley needs to step up and make a huge play.
Kyle Shanahan seems enamored enough with Dwelley to give him such a chance. So, when Kittle finds himself the focal point of a defense’s attention down the stretch, don’t be shocked if Dwelley winds up being a go-to guy and beneficiary.