4 free-agent tight ends 49ers can pursue to pair with George Kittle

Robert Tonyan #85 of the Green Bay Packers and George Kittle #85 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Brandon Magnus/Getty Images)
Robert Tonyan #85 of the Green Bay Packers and George Kittle #85 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Brandon Magnus/Getty Images) /
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While it doesn’t seem to be a glaring need, the 49ers have long sought a No. 2 tight end to complement George Kittle, and these four free agents could be targets.

When thinking about the San Francisco 49ers’ biggest offseason needs heading into 2022, one might consider cornerback, safety, the defensive line and offensive line as the biggest needs.

Buried way down the list is the need to infuse some talent at tight end.

All-Pro George Kittle is already atop the depth chart, and there’s no need to replace him. But it’s also no secret head coach Kyle Shanahan has worked for years trying to find an ideal No. 2 guy on the depth chart.

A year ago, the Niners experimented with now-retired Jordan Reed in this role, and that generated some modest success. For the long haul, Ross Dwelley emerged as the most reliable No. 2 option. But after seeing less than 18 percent of the team’s total offensive snaps and heading towards free agency, it doesn’t appear as if Dwelley is in San Francisco’s long-term plans.

The 49ers are expected to have roughly $20 million in available cap space once they move quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo this offseason, which provides a little bit of wiggle room if they can land a complementary tight end on a relatively team-friendly deal.

And these four have to come to mind.

49ers TE target No. 4: Gerald Everett, Seahawks

Seattle Seahawks tight end Gerald Everett might have been destined for great things when the Los Angeles Rams selected him in Round 2 of the 2017 NFL Draft out of South Alabama. Yet Everett didn’t exactly latch on as a bona fide receiving threat, prompting LA to bid farewell to him once his rookie contract expired in 2020 and in favor of fellow tight end Tyler Higbee.

Everett subsequently signed on with the Seattle Seahawks for a one-year deal, finishing with a career-best 48 catches for 478 yards and four touchdowns.

Great numbers for a No. 2 tight end, yes, but far from the kind of production that would land him a top-end deal.

The Niners wouldn’t be getting a bona fide star with Everett, rather a productive secondary option who’d be more than capable of filling a void if Kittle was to be lost for any period of time with an injury.