It was a simple catch. A shot gun formation. A toss short right. A four yard gain on a first and ten. The twelfth play in a 14 play touchdown drive. A mere .0064 of a record setting 621 total yards of offense. There was nothing extraordinary about this catch. But its a memorable one for Garrett Celek. It was the first reception of his NFL career.It was definitely exciting. They actually put the play in right before the game, the day before. When they called it, I was really excited. I didnt know if I was going to get the ball or not and when I did, it just felt really good, the 65 rookie explained. I only got four yards out of it, but it felt good to get it out of the way because I had some nerves about it.The catch came on the last play of the third quarter in the 49ers' blow out win over the Bills. It was lost amid the big double digit receptions and scores by the bigger names among the 49ers receiving corp. What stands out is how Celek was even in position to make the catch in the first place.
Celek came to the 49ers as an undrafted free agent rookie out of Michigan State. Five teams had asked the younger brother of Eagles tight end Brent Celek to join their training camps. Garrett felt San Francisco would give him the best opportunity to make a team. The team did not retain veteran tight end Justin Peelle after the 2011 season and an opening, though slight, was there. He chose wisely.Not only did Celek do enough to earn a spot on the regular season roster, he has worked himself onto the field more than any of the other four rookies available for game days. First round draft pick, wide receiver A.J. Jenkins, has been active for only one game, the season opener against Green Bay. He didnt play. Second and fourth round picks, running back LaMichael James and offensive lineman Joe Looney, have yet to be active. Sixth round draft pick Trenton Robinson had 11 special team snaps combined in the second and third games of the season. He has been inactive the last two. Celek has 28 offensive snaps over the last three games hes been active. His self analysis is he came in a better blocker than receiver and employs a whatever-it-takes attitude to get better at both. Though catching a ball on Sunday has been foremost on his mind.
Ive been thinking about it for the past few weeks, but once I got it, everything just felt smooth, Celek said. All my nerves went away. I felt more confident in my stuffso it was good.That confidence also comes from feeling more settled and gaining veteran advice from fellow tight ends Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker. And now Celek is turning his attitude toward gaining versatility, too. Im definitely trying to learn all positions, full back, receiving everything. I want to be as effective as possible If someone were to go down at any point at time, I want the coaches to be able to look at me and go, OK, we can trust him to go in and get the job done. Thats the kind of guy I want to be.