49ers signing veteran tight end spells bad news for Cameron Latu

Cameron Latu might easily be the odd man out on the Niners' tight end depth chart in 2024.
San Francisco 49ers tight end Cameron Latu (81)
San Francisco 49ers tight end Cameron Latu (81) / Michael Zagaris/GettyImages

The 49ers still have hope in second-year pro Cameron Latu, but grabbing Eric Saubert puts a serious damper on those hopes.

Second-year tight end Cameron Latu already headed into the 2024 offseason on the San Francisco 49ers' roster bubble despite the team losing two of its other tight ends to free agency, Charlie Woerner and the still-unsigned Ross Dwelley.

Behind George Kittle, the Niners boasted a pair of other tight ends behind Latu, Brayden Willis and Jake Tonges, the latter looking more like an offseason training camp invitee beyond anything else.

But San Francisco sought additional tight end help anyway, trying to pry away Brock Wright from the Detroit Lions, who ultimately stayed when Detroit matched the 49ers' restricted free-agent offer.

Understanding the Niners weren't done here, they executed a full transaction to bolster the depth chart, one that endangers Latu's already-slim roster chances.

49ers sign veteran TE Eric Saubert

On Monday, San Francisco announced it had signed 29-year-old backup tight end Eric Saubert to a one-year deal. While the financials aren't yet known, Saubert's experience within the league after joining it as a fifth-round NFL Draft choice of the Atlanta Falcons back in 2017 makes him the preferable option for the 49ers' 53-man roster over someone like Latu.

Having also played with the Chicago Bears, Jacksonville Jaguars, Denver Broncos, Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans, Saubert is well-traveled and has appeared in 84 games, starting in 16 of them.

In 2022 with the Broncos, Saubert had a career-high 15 catches for 148 yards and a touchdown.

What Eric Saubert signing means for Cameron Latu

After being selected by the 49ers in Round 3 of the 2023 draft out of Alabama, Latu subsequently struggled in training camp and found himself redshirting his rookie season on injured reserve with a knee injury that required surgery.

According to NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco, the Niners are still hopeful Latu can bounce back from what was otherwise a forgettable first season in the pros.

However, considering the fact San Francisco aggressively pursued Wright and then inked Saubert as a fallback option doesn't bode well for Latu's future with the franchise.

If Saubert's guaranteed money is significant enough, it'd also indicate that he's much more preferable a regular-season option over Latu, who could find himself a "one and done" with the 49ers if he doesn't win this particular position battle during training camp.

And the Niners could still add more tight end power via this year's draft, too.

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