49ers Week 2 tight end depth chart if George Kittle is out vs. Jets

George Kittle #85 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
George Kittle #85 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

The 49ers are expecting George Kittle to be back in time versus the Jets in Week 2. But if he’s not, here’s what the tight end depth chart would be.

San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle took a hit to his knee from Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker in Week 1, forcing the first-team All-Pro to leave the field prematurely before halftime.

Kittle returned for the second half, yes. But he managed zero receptions on zero targets in the third and fourth quarters, potentially influencing the Niners losing their first-week bout 24-20.

After the game, news broke Kittle suffered a knee sprain and the initial reports were it wouldn’t cut into his availability to play against the New York Jets in Week 2.

That’s the hope at least. And while no one would dare question Kittle’s toughness — he played through both ribs and ankle injuries last year — head coach Kyle Shanahan and Co. have to guard against their top offensive weapon potentially suffering further injury if Kittle was to take the field prematurely.

On Wednesday, Shanahan told reporters Kittle wouldn’t practice this week. While there’s room for a potential light workout on Friday in advance of San Francisco’s trip to MetLife Stadium, it’s likely Kittle’s status will remain up in the air until game day.

And even if Kittle is available, his onfield presence could be limited.

So it won’t be surprising if Shanahan and the 49ers have to test their depth chart on Sunday at tight end.

Let’s break it down.

SF 49ers depth chart at tight end behind George Kittle

San Francisco stockpiled its tight ends during the offseason, adding rookie Charlie Woerner out of Georgia to replace the veteran, Levine Toilolo, whose blocking prowess left for the New York Giants in free agency.

Additionally, the Niners inked former Washington tight end Jordan Reed to a one-year deal.

Jordan Reed

Even if Kittle is active for Week 2, there’s a chance Reed winds up seeing an uptick in usage against the Jets.

Reed, who played under Shanahan in Washington in 2013, impressed in training camp after joining San Francisco and managed two receptions on two targets for 12 yards in his first game back from missing all of 2019 with an injury.

One might guess Reed would get a few more looks over the course of Sunday’s game against a Jets defense that surrendered 702 yards to tight ends last season.

Ross Dwelley

The 49ers already know what they have in backup tight end Ross Dwelley. After all, Dwelley filled in for Kittle two games last year when the latter was dealing with injury, and Dwelley managed to lift the Niners over the Cardinals in both games, first with a key third-down reception in Week 9 and a crucial touchdown in Week 11.

Dwelley didn’t impact the stat sheet in Week 1 this year, and his overall numbers in 2019 weren’t overly impressive: 15 receptions for 91 yards and two touchdowns.

But when counted upon, his presence was felt. And that could end up being an X-factor for Shanahan this Sunday.

Charlie Woerner

Woerner’s route-running abilities in training camp were ugly, and there are reasons why he never managed more than 11 receptions a season at the college level.

That said, Woerner’s blocking prowess was exemplary, and that’s the prime reason why San Francisco brought him aboard via the draft.

Yet Woerner saw only one offensive snap during last Sunday’s game. And if there’s a massive uptick in this number against the Jets, particularly if the 49ers are asking Woerner to be an offensive contributor, Shanahan’s offense is likely in a lot of trouble.

Simply put, it’s not Woerner’s role to be running routes as a pass-catching target right now.

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The 49ers and Jets kick off on Sunday, Sept. 20 at 1 p.m. ET from MetLife Stadium.