49ers roster: Predicting 3 backups who see most field time in 2021
By Peter Panacy
No. 2: 49ers Tight End Ross Dwelley
Maybe Kyle Shanahan has put a halt to his seemingly year-to-year search to find a quality complementary tight end to the All-Pro, George Kittle.
Last year, the thinking was veteran tight end Jordan Reed could provide that thump, and having two pass-catching threats at the position is the envy of most head coaches, so Shanahan has an argument there.
Heading into 2021, though, it appears as if Shanahan is realizing the No. 2 tight end at his disposal is someone who has always been there: Ross Dwelley.
With Reed now retired, Dwelley automatically steps back into that second-tier support role and should see plenty of offensive snaps this season due to the lack of serious competition around him.
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In an ideal world, Kittle wouldn’t miss any field time. But the 49ers have to take into account his injury history, which included missing two games in 2019 and then eight more last season. While Dwelley’s 2019 numbers weren’t particularly great — 15 catches for 91 yards and two touchdowns — it sure appeared as if every play he made was of the clutch variety.
And last year, despite Reed being in the mix, Dwelley posted a career-best 19 receptions for 245 yards while seeing 46 percent of all offensive snaps.
The latter percentage could drop a little bit in 2021, particularly if Kittle stays healthy. But expect Dwelley to be more of a factor now that he’s the clear-cut No. 2 tight end behind Kittle.