MIAMI, Fla. -- Tight end Garrett Celek made it to the Super Bowl in his first NFL season.
Celek is sidelined with a back condition this time around. But the fact he is joining his 49ers teammates for Super Bowl LIV has helped him get through a season that has been challenging on a personal level.
“I’ve never looked at it in a bad way, at all, which has been great,” Celek said. "I just hate having to deal with an injury. That’s the biggest thing.
“It hasn’t been crushing me because we’re doing so well. I think if we weren’t doing well, it would hurt more because then I would’ve felt like I wasn’t contributing at all -- like I couldn’t help out the guys. But because we’re doing so well, it’s awesome.”
Celek, 31, faces a decision at the end of the season. Celek, the second-longest tenured 49ers player behind Joe Staley, is scheduled to be a free agent, and he said he has no time frame on determining his next move.
When asked if retirement is an option, Celek answered, “I don’t know, yet. That’s something I’ll have to face once the season is over. I’ll try to figure it out.”
Celek underwent surgery in June to repair a herniated disk at the L-4 and L-5 levels. He began the season on injured reserve and appeared in five games before his back flared up. The 49ers placed him on IR in mid-December. He said he will not require another surgical procedure on his back.
Celek said he probably came back too quickly after surgery, but he felt as if it was the righ thing to do at a time when tight ends George Kittle and Levine Toilolo were injured.
“I told the coaches that I was prepared and I could do it, and that might’ve been too early," Celek said. "But I wouldn’t take it back."
Celek, who entered the NFL in 2012 as an undrafted rookie from Michigan State, was a backup to Vernon Davis when the 49ers made it to the Super Bowl that year. He played three snaps of offense and 14 plays on special teams in the 49ers’ 34-31 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII.
“It’s not easy getting here,” Celek said. “I thought it was when I got here in my rookie year, but then I realized soon after that, it is not easy.”
Celek has appeared in 91 games with 31 starts in his eight NFL seasons. He has 82 career receptions for 1,104 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Programming note: NBC Sports Bay Area feeds your hunger for 49ers Super Bowl coverage with special editions of “49ers Central” all week (9:30 p.m. Friday, and 3 p.m. Saturday).
Also tune in at 1 p.m. on Super Bowl Sunday for a two-hour special of "49ers Pregame Live" with Laura Britt, Donte Whitner, Jeff Garcia, Ian Williams, Kelli Johnson, Greg Papa and Grant Liffmann. That same crew will have all the postgame reaction on "49ers Postgame Live," starting immediately after the game.