49ers roster: 4 third-year players facing make-or-break season in 2022

Javon Kinlaw #99 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Javon Kinlaw #99 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /
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Charlie Woerner, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers tight end Charlie Woerner (89) Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports /

No. 3: 49ers tight end Charlie Woerner

The 49ers didn’t have to anticipate late-round rookie tight end Charlie Woerner doing a lot back in 2020. After all, behind All-Pro George Kittle, the Niners had other tight ends in Jordan Reed and Ross Dwelley, which meant Woerner’s primary job was going to be a blocking specialist, easily the main reason he was drafted out of Georgia two seasons ago.

Reed retired after 2020, though, and there’s a good chance San Francisco is preparing to move on from Dwelley, too. In fact, Woerner actually saw 249 offensive snaps last season compared to Dwelley’s 195, a drop of nearly five percent between the two.

And quite notable considering Dwelley had been Kittle’s go-to backup for the better part of the last three seasons.

Woerner was an atrocious route-runner his rookie season, and the fact he had only two more targets (five) than the three he received in 2020 suggests there haven’t exactly been a lot of positive developments in that area.

Now, the 49ers could potentially decide to find a complementary pass-catching tight end to pair with Kittle entering 2022, meaning Woerner might end up being relegated to the role of strictly a blocking specialist in jumbo packages.

While important, Woerner has the opportunity to seize a bigger role this season, especially if Dwelley is no longer in the picture.