49ers met with TE Brayden Willis at NFL Combine, eyeing him in draft?

Tight end Brayden Willis #9 of the Oklahoma Sooners (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
Tight end Brayden Willis #9 of the Oklahoma Sooners (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images) /

The 49ers primarily focused on meeting defensive players at the 2023 NFL Combine, but Oklahoma tight end Brayden Willis changed that trend.

Another year, and another offseason in which the San Francisco 49ers seek out a quality No. 2 tight end to pair with the All-Pro, George Kittle.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan has been trying to achieve this for years now but with only moderate (at best) success.

Heading into 2023, one might think Shanahan and the Niners give up. Especially with a plethora of offensive weapons in addition to Kittle, such as other All-Pros in wide receiver Deebo Samuel and running back Christian McCaffrey.

However, some of San Francisco’s actions at the NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis suggest otherwise.

49ers meeting with tight ends at NFL Combine, including Oklahoma’s Brayden Willis

For the most part, the 49ers’ prospect meetings at the combine have been with defensive players, a lot of them safeties.

But, with the combine moving toward more offensive players on Saturday and Sunday, a number of offensive names have been reported and linked to the Niners, too.

Including Oklahoma tight end Brayden Willis, according to Steph Sanchez of Niners Nation, who inquired about the formal meeting he had with San Francisco:


Willis, 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds, was quite the versatile player in the Sooners’ offense, lining up all over the formation and showing the capability of being an inline blocker as well as out on the periphery.

He might be lacking in functional strength. But a breakout senior-year campaign in 2022 put him on the map as a legitimate receiving option.

Brayden Willis Receiving & Rushing Table
*2018OklahomaBig 12FRTE212929.0000012929.00
*2019OklahomaBig 12SOFB121116815.332-1-0.501316712.83
*2020OklahomaBig 12JRHB4911012.21000911012.21
*2021OklahomaBig 12SRTE71517711.820001517711.82
*2022OklahomaBig 12SRTE133951413.2710262.604954011.07

Provided by CFB at Sports Reference
Generated 3/3/2023.

Read More: 5 sleeper prospects Niners must closely watch at NFL Combine

Willis isn’t expected to be drafted until day three, and a strong NFL Scouting Combine performance could boost his stock value into Round 5, perhaps.

Given the 49ers already have a top tight end in Kittle, though, they don’t need to spend serious assets on another at this position.

Especially knowing that the 2023 NFL Draft is chock full of quality tight ends.

That said, if Willis winds up being a sleeper find for the Niners in this year’s draft, Shanahan might finally get that one-two punch at tight end that he’s been seeking for so long.

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