49ers surprisingly re-sign seldom-used TE Ross Dwelley

San Francisco 49ers tight end Ross Dwelley (82) Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
San Francisco 49ers tight end Ross Dwelley (82) Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

The 49ers haven’t deployed backup tight end Ross Dwelley much the last two years, but he keeps getting re-signed in NFL free agency regardless.

For years now, the running joke for the San Francisco 49ers was that they can’t figure out a way to quit quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

With Jimmy G now part of the Las Vegas Raiders, perhaps the joke should shift to backup tight end Ross Dwelley.

Dwelley, who has known no other team than the Niners since breaking into the league as an undrafted free agent in 2018, has seen his usage decline significantly over the last two seasons.

And yet San Francisco keeps re-signing him to one-year deals.

At the conclusion of 2022, it seemed as if Dwelley was poised to hit NFL free agency and not return, especially after the 49ers gave far more snaps behind the All-Pro, George Kittle, to other tight ends like Tyler Kroft and Charlie Woerner.

For reference, here is how the Niners’ tight end snap counts for last season panned out:

  • George Kittle: 859
  • Tyler Kroft: 238
  • Charlie Woerner: 201
  • Ross Dwelley: 101

The previous year wasn’t too different as Woener out-snapped Dwelley as well. And while Kroft is a free agent and not under contract with San Francisco for 2023, Woerner still is.

But Dwelley is back regardless.

49ers re-sign Ross Dwelley despite deep NFL Draft class at tight end

On Monday, the 49ers announced they officially re-signed Dwelley for another one-year contract.

Despite thinking Dwelley had seen his final snaps in a Niners uniform, perhaps head coach Kyle Shanahan and Co. appreciate the fact he’s been a useful backup to Kittle since 2019 and could serve in a similar role again in 2023.

Although Dwelley had only three receptions for 105 yards and a touchdown last year.

Read More: 49ers NFL free agency tracker: Who’s coming, going in 2023?

If there’s an interesting point, though, it’s the reality that the 2023 NFL Draft is projected to be exceptionally deep at tight end, and it’s hard to envision Shanahan passing on such a deep class when he’s long sought a top-end No. 2 tight end to pair with Kittle.

Perhaps Dwelley re-signing is merely insurance in case San Francisco can’t draft a rookie tight end it likes, or if a drafted rookie simply doesn’t pan out in training camp.

Regardless, Ross “The Boss” Dwelley is back again.

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