The 49ers managed to lock up one of their seven unrestricted free agents Tuesday, signing TE Garrett Celek to a four-year extension.
The move comes on the heels of a career season for the 27-year old Michigan State product. Celek caught 19 passes for 186 yards and three touchdowns in a breakout 2015 campaign. With the departure of former 49er Vernon Davis, and Vance McDonald‘s continued struggles with receiving, Celek was a lone bright spot at tight end for San Francisco.
In 11 — including eight starts — Celek impressed enough to convince general manager Trent Baalke to keep the former undrafted free agent around, as a part of head coach Chip Kelly’s revamped 49ers offense. Baalke released this statement on the signing Tuesday:
“Since Garrett entered the league as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2012, he has displayed the skill, work ethic and desire to compete at a high level in the National Football League. His commitment and determination to succeed are reflected in the way he conducts himself as a professional on and off the field. As an organization, we would like to congratulate Garrett and look forward to his continued development as a member of this organization.”
According to Pro Football Focus’ Jeff Deeney, Kelly used a two-tight end set just under 30 percent of the time during his tenure as the coach of the Eagles. With the release of TE Brian Leonhardt on Monday, San Francisco currently has five players under contract at the position.
McDonald and Celek look to be in line for the majority of snaps during the 2016 season, with Blake Bell looking for more playing time in Kelly’s system. San Francisco will also get their first extended look at seventh-round pick Busta Anderson, who was placed on injured reserve prior to the start of last season.
With the 49ers depth at tight end looking shallow, the team may look to bolster the position through free agency or with one of their 12 draft picks.
Celek has appeared in 39 games and started 10 for San Francisco 49ers, registering 27 receptions for 328 yards and three touchdowns since entering the league in 2012.