Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports


Five things to know about new 49ers offensive lineman Senio Kelemete

Jun 11, 2021 at 9:07 AM--


The San Francisco 49ers have announced the signing of veteran offensive lineman Senio Kelemete, as first reported Friday morning report from Mike Garafolo of NFL Media. Where Kelemete fits in with the 49ers exactly remains to be seen, but they'll at the very least be getting an experienced, versatile veteran (88 games, 42 starts) capable of adding depth at a number of positions.

Here's a look at five things to know about Kelemete before he heads to the Bay Area.

* He made the move from defense in college: Kelemete was rated as a three-star prospect as a two-way player at Evergreen High School in Seattle and began his career at the University of Washington as a defensive tackle. He played in eight games at defensive tackle in 2008 as a freshman at Washington before he was moved to the offensive line as a sophomore.

Kelemete started 11 games at guard in 2009, then started 26 games at left tackle for the Huskies over his final two college seasons. He was a two-time team captain at Washington, was a second-team All-Pac-12 performer as a senior, and was named as his team's top offensive lineman following his senior season.

* An unusual NFL debut: Kelemete started his NFL career with the Arizona Cardinals, who selected him in Round 5 of the 2012 NFL Draft. He was inactive for most of his rookie season before seeing action in the 2012 season finale -- a 27-13 loss to the 49ers in Candlestick Park. It was a memorable game for Kelemete because not only was it his NFL debut, it was the first and only time he caught an NFL pass. The catch came in the second quarter when he fought off 49ers defensive lineman Isaac Sopoaga for a deflected pass from Cardinals quarterback Brian Hoyer. Kelemete caught the pass and moved forward for a 10-yard gain.

"I really didn't think I was actually going to catch it," Kelemete said, per Cardinals.com. "I thought Isaac Sopoaga was at least going to bat it down. I came up with it and I was like, 'Well, I guess I can go forward with it.' I wasn't really thinking I was going to catch that ball."

The reception made Kelemete the first offensive lineman in league history to catch a pass in his first game.

* An older scouting report: Kelemete didn't play in another game with the Cardinals, but eventually his NFL career would begin to flourish with the New Orleans Saints. After first spending time on the practice squad in New Orleans, Kelemete appeared in 10 games for the Saints in 2015, then played in 47 games over the next three seasons, with 22 starts.

In 2016, John Sigler of WhoDatDish.com offered this scouting report of Kelemete's performance with the Saints up to that point in his career.

"The first thing to note is that there are some warts to his style of play," wrote Sigler. "He doesn't pick up defenders well at the second level and struggles to play strong; too often would defenders disengage from a block and evade his reach before he could recover. Kelemete's play strength has to improve if he's going to start this year.

"The good news is that Kelemete moves very well for a man his size. He's listed at 300-pounds on the team website which is good size for a zone-blocking guard like what the Saints prefer, but may be light for more conventional schemes. Kelemete accelerates uphill in a hurry and typically doesn't struggle to navigate traffic around the line of scrimmage, but changing direction on the move is difficult for him... On the whole, Senio Kelemete is a versatile lineman who can fulfill most of his responsibilities with competence. He's proven in the past that he can be solid in the starting lineup in a pinch, and his experience at every line position (tackle, guard, and center) gives him added value."

Things may have changed for Kelemete since that was written, of course, but it still provides 49ers fans with at least some idea of what to expect.

* Onto the Texans: Kelemete turned his time with the Saints into a three-year, $12 million free-agent deal with the Houston Texans in 2018. He started 14 of 15 games with the Texans in 2018, then was limited to just one game in 2019 due to a wrist injury. Kelemete played in more of a platoon role at guard in 2020, appearing in 14 games with five starts.

"He came in and was physical every day," Texans offensive coordinator Tim Kelly said in October of 2020, per TexansWire. "He came in with the right mindset, the right attitude. Put in the work. Didn't say really anything, just came in and when he got his opportunity, he went out there and was productive. So, we continued to give him a little bit more and as that happened, he continued to be productive."

The Texans signed Kelemete to a one-year extension in 2020 but released him earlier this year in a cost-cutting move.

* His PFF history: A look through Kelemete's history of Pro Football Focus evaluations yielded an interesting tidbit. Following the 2017 season, PFF had Kelemete tied for fourth in the league in terms of pass-blocking efficiency among guards.

"What he lacked in run-blocking, five-year veteran Senio Kelemete made up for in pass protection in 2017," wrote Austin Gayle of PFF. "In his career-high 314 pass-blocking snaps at guard with the New Orleans Saints last season, Kelemete allowed just eight total pressures (five hurries, two hits, one sack), which was good for a 98.0 pass-blocking efficiency. While he also earned a 38.5 run-block grade, Kelemete proved his worth on passing downs, so much so that he received a three-year, $12 million contract and likely a starting job from the Texans this offseason."

Kelemete's overall PFF grades through the years were as follows: 54.5 in 2020, 73.4 in 2019 (one game), 58.9 in 2018, 60.4 in 2017, 63.0 in 2016, 66.7 in 2015, and 57.9 in 2014.





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