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49ers 2019 NFL Draft: Kaden Smith to challenge Garrett Celek for a roster spot?

Apr 27, 2019 at 12:51 PM


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The San Francisco 49ers used the first of three sixth-round picks in the 2019 NFL Draft on former Stanford tight end Kaden Smith, who might push the veteran, Garrett Celek, for a prime roster spot this training camp.


There's a good chance the "Celek Time" moniker has run its course with the San Francisco 49ers.

Tight end was one of the lesser needs for the Niners in the 2019 NFL Draft, particularly with the fact Pro Bowler George Kittle is already an established weapon. But the depth behind Kittle is something general manager John Lynch and Co. needed to address. Especially if eventually replacing veteran tight end Garret Celek is in the works.

On day three of the draft, Lynch used the No. 176 overall selection on Stanford tight end Kaden Smith -- a 6-foot-5, 255-pound mover with plenty of upside and strength, if not fluidity and smoothness to his game.

And there's no doubting the Stanford connection between Lynch and Smith came into play, also including the 49ers' local pro day, which Smith attended.

The 49ers already selected Baylor wide receiver Jalen Hurd, and there's some belief head coach Kyle Shanahan will use him as more of a tight end. Yet Hurd isn't much of a blocker, while Smith is more adept at such. Especially in run support.

Smith has some traits similar to Kittle, too, namely the ability to create yards after the catch. That's one of the main things separating Kittle from the rest of the league, and there are some moments where Smith did the same in college as well.

So, will Smith challenge Celek for the No. 2 tight end role this training camp?

Most likely. Celek will turn 31 years old before the regular season begins, and it's likely his best years are behind him. Plus, Shanahan is going to want to engineer offensive packages with potentially two pass-catching tight ends at his disposal. This didn't exactly come to fruition with Kittle and Celek last year, so one would guess pairing the Pro Bowler with Smith might generate moderately better results.

And if Smith can be a more-productive blocker alone, he might already be an upgrade over Celek. That could push the veteran off the roster, as it's highly unlikely San Francisco keeps Celek as a No. 3 tight end entering the regular season.
  • Written by:
    Peter Panacy has been writing about the 49ers since 2011 for outlets like Bleacher Report, Niner Noise, 49ers Webzone, and is occasionally heard as a guest on San Francisco's 95.7 FM The Game and the Niners' flagship station, KNBR 680. Feel free to follow him, or direct any inquiries to his Twitter account.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


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