49ers fix free-agent losses in this 7-round mock NFL Draft

Christopher Smith #29 of the Georgia Bulldogs (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
Christopher Smith #29 of the Georgia Bulldogs (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) /
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Josh Whyle, Cincinnati Bearcats
Cincinnati Bearcats tight end Josh Whyle (81) Mandatory Credit: Imagn Images /

830. . Tight End. Bearcats . Josh Whyle. 173. player

Round 5, Pick No. 173 Overall: 49ers select TE Josh Whyle

Tight end George Kittle had an incredible season, largely in part to the chemistry that he and Brock Purdy found on the field. Their late-season connection produced seven touchdowns in four games and helped cap off a 10-game win streak.

Backing up the “People’s Tight End” and resident hype man are Charlie Woerner and Ross Dwelley. Woerner is in the last year of his contract, and Dwelley just re-signed earlier this week to a one-year deal.

This means that both of Kittle’s backups will be free agents next year. That doesn’t leave a lot of insurance for the Niners at the season’s end should both decide to sign elsewhere.

What they can do is draft Josh Whyle out of Cincinnati and give him a full year to learn the Kyle Shanahan system. If Whyle pans out, then they will have a vested backup on more than a one-year deal for a bargain price.

During his tenure in the AAC, Whyle eclipsed the 130 QB rating season mark twice when targeted, and averaged more than 10 yards per catch three times in five seasons.

Over the years, the 49ers haven’t invested a lot of time into grooming a long-term backup, mostly in part to Kittle’s iron man status.

Maybe this year, they will change that.