Inactive Davis would allow more growth for Celek

Inactive Davis would allow more growth for Celek
December 29, 2012, 10:30 pm
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As the team's third tight end, Garrett Celek has four catches for 51 yards this season. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

If tight end Vernon Davis (concussion) is not cleared to play in the 49ers' final regular season game against the Cardinals, the coaches will turn to a savvy veteran and a surprise rookie to fill Davis’ spot. Delanie Walker is the experienced veteran, of course -- a player offensive coordinator Greg Roman deemed "Mr. Do-it-All."

“They’ll probably split a couple of things,” Roman explained. “Delanie is such a valuable asset in what we call the ‘Y’ tight end and also as the second tight end, the ‘F’, so he can do both and does do both at times. But it will definitely be a mix and match thing.”

Garrett Celek is the rookie, a rookie Roman may as well call "Mr. Against-the-Odds." At 6-foot-5 and 252 pounds, Celek went into training camp as a strong blocker, but he was so raw at catching that no one quite believed the undrafted free agent would make the roster.

“We already had [second-year tight end] Konrad [Reuland] and he went to Stanford and played under G-Ro and Jim, so I thought it was going to be a little hard for Garrett to make the team,” Walker said.  “But he showed some improvement later on in the season and preseason games.”

“He didn’t get a lot of action at Michigan State catching balls. I believe he caught 12 or so, but the ones he did catch you could see some natural catching ability,” Roman said. “I’ll be honest with you, the first week he was here he wasn’t catching that well, but he just got better and better and better and better incrementally and he’s got a good feel for it.”

Celek has improved to the point that he plays Davis position in certain formations.

“When we go two tight ends he takes Vernon’s spot and I play the role I usually do,” Walker explained.

Celek was playing Davis’ position against Seattle when he caught a 35-yard reception to take the 49ers to the Seahawks' 35-yard line late in the third quarter.

“I just went down the seam and saw I was open, turned, Kap saw me and threw the ball,” Celek said. “Jumped, caught it. The guy hit me on the hips, spun me around and I still stayed on my feet and got a few more yards out of it.”

Celek played 51 percent of the 49ers offensive snaps against Seattle. He’s appeared regularly on special teams, but the 29 snaps against the Seahawks is the most he’s played on offense by far in the 12 games he’s appeared for San Francisco this season. No other 49ers rookie has played more. With only three tight ends on the roster, Celek gets plenty of work in practice to prepare.

“The coaches are always getting on me about making sure I know every position,” Celek said. “They always throw me in there for different plays here and there. They definitely want to get me in there so in case on Sunday, exactly what happened, someone goes down, I can just fit in comfortably and not interrupt the offense’s flow at all.”

Celek also has a flow with quarterback Colin Kaepernick from the time the two spent together running the scout team earlier in the season. It’s not difficult to think Celek could end the regular season with a season-high in targets should Davis remain unavailable.