49ers draft outlook: Tight ends

49ers draft outlook: Tight ends
April 19, 2013, 10:45 am
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Zach Ertz played for Jim Harbaugh at Stanford, but Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert is another option for the 49ers at tight end. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

Tight end Delanie Walker left the 49ers as a free agent to become a starter with the Tennessee Titans.

But, really, Walker was a starter with the 49ers, too. He played 56.8 percent of the 49ers' offensive snaps last season. Only eight 49ers offensive players were on the field more often.

Walker's departure leaves a void in the 49ers' offense that the 49ers expect to fill with a draft pick.

[RELATED: NFL Draft central]

Who's here: Vernon Davis, Garrett Celek, Cameron Morrah

Draft needs: Celek made the biggest contribution of any 49ers rookie last season, as he saw action as the third-string tight end and on special teams. The 49ers signed Morrah, a three-year veteran the Seattle Seahawks released with an injury settlement in August. If the 49ers select a tight end early in the draft, that player would have a chance to see significant action with Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman demonstrating a fondness for sets that include multiple tight ends.

Good fits: Zach Ertz (Stanford), Tyler Eifert (Notre Dame) and Gavin Escobar (San Diego State) are all similar in build -- in the 6-foot-5, 250-pound range. The 49ers have not drafted a Stanford player in the two years since Harbaugh came from Stanford. Ertz is a much better fit for the 49ers' offense than Coby Fleener, who was available a year ago at the end of the first round. Ertz is more physical, and can contribute as a receiver and a blocker. He is a definite option with the 49ers' picks at Nos. 31 and 34 overall. If the 49ers wait until the middle rounds, Travis Kelce (Cincinnati) would be an attractive option because of his blocking skills.

[RELATED: Ertz: 'I'd love to come to 49ers']