49ers post opt-out 53-man roster predictions

Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /
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George Kittle, 49ers
George Kittle #85 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

49ers Tight Ends (3)

George Kittle

Jordan Reed

Charlie Woerner

As if there was any question about it, Thursday’s announcement that All-Pro tight end George Kittle is expected to sign a contract extension to the tune of five years, $75 million means that Kittle is not only a lock for the 2020 roster but for the next several years to come.

But that slot was never up for debate. Kittle is the starter and has been locked into that position ever since he exploded onto the scene during his second NFL season.

The real question is who will follow Kittle on the 49ers’ tight end depth chart, a question that has been churning around with some roster changes that have taken place in recent days.

The 49ers officially announced the signing of former Washington tight end Jordan Reed on Aug. 9. Reed, who was drafted by Kyle Shanahan and his father, Mike, when the pair were coaching in Washington, has a history of concussions that have derailed his once-promising career.

If Reed can maintain his health, there’s no doubt he’s the second-best tight end on the roster, heads and tails above players like Ross Dwelley or Daniel Helm, and more established than rookies like Chase Harrell or Charlie Woerner. It’s a big if, given Reed’s history. But if that’s the case, the 49ers will have one of the best, if not the best, tight end tandems in the NFL.

Reed will push out Dwelley, who served as Kittle’s understudy in 2019, who the team won’t be able to keep around because he doesn’t fit the mold Kyle Shanahan usually calls for in his third tight end: a high-quality blocker.

So that likely means that the third slot will go to the rookie Woerner, who the 49ers selected in the sixth round of the 2020 NFL Draft, and features as more of a bull-rushing blocker than pass-catcher.

Of course, this was the profile of Kittle coming out of Iowa a few years ago, so Woerner could certainly blossom, but he won’t be expected to with Kittle and Reed above him on the depth chart.

At least not for 2020.