NFL free agency: The biggest swing 49ers could take at tight end

Questions regarding the depth chart at tight end exist for San Francisco

Carolina Panthers v Chicago Bears
Carolina Panthers v Chicago Bears / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

The San Francisco 49ers have perhaps one of the top-five tight ends in the league in George Kittle. Behind him in the depth chart was a pair of now-free agents, a second-year player and two rookies.

Kittle, who is now 30 years old, has shown he can still produce. In 2023, he pulled in 65 receptions for 1,020 yards and half a dozen touchdowns.

He averaged 15.7 yards a catch, proving to be a reliable target for quarterback Brock Purdy. The top two tight ends behind Kittle were Charlier Woerner and Ross Dwelley.

Woerner had only three receptions for a total of 32 yards in 2023, and Dwelley had just one reception for 12 yards. Both players are looking for new contracts, whether it be with San Francisco or elsewhere.

Both Cameron Latu and Brayden Willis were rookies last year and Jake Tonges played in his second season in the league. Neither of these three netted any receptions or yardage.

Going into the 2024, San Francisco may look to revamp the tight room spot on the roster as the 49ers look to return to another Super Bowl. Cutting their losses and moving on from some of the above names may allow the team to bring in another veteran to aid in their championship aspirations.

Adding a fresh face with 17 years of experience could be a steal in free agency for the 49ers

Marcedes Lewis is looking for a new team as he has not missed a game since 2020. The UCLA graduate may welcome a return to California as he has missed out on the playoffs the last few seasons.

In 268 career games, Lewis has 436 receptions for 5,113 yards and 40 touchdowns. At 39 years old, he caught four receptions for 29 yards and a touchdown for Chicago last season.

Re-signing Woerner is smart as he is already familiar with the team and is younger than Kittle. Retaining Dwelley and Latu on the practice squad could also prove to be lucrative.

In releasing Willis and Tonges, giving a one-year deal to a veteran is a low-risk, high-reward move. Especially for a team with an extensive injury history over the last few years.

Lewis would give the 49ers an insurance policy should Kittle or Woerner get hurt and miss games. A big factor in San Francisco's success has been the depth on the roster.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan and Co. would gladly take on a seasoned pass catcher. The more weapons Purdy has, the more the 49ers offense can up and defeat their opponents on the way to Super Bowl LIX.

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