SANTA CLARA -- Veteran tight end Garrett Celek has a three-week tryout to prove to the 49ers he deserves a spot on the roster for his eighth NFL season.

Celek, 31, returned to practice Tuesday from the physically-unable-to-perform list. The 49ers have until Nov. 25 to activate Celek to the 53-man roster or release him.

“Hopefully, I put up enough good film over these next three weeks that they feel confident enough to be able to activate me,” Celek said. “I have a three-week window now.”

Celek underwent surgery on a herniated disk in his back in early-June. He also spent the offseason in the NFL’s concussion protocol after missing the final game of last season with a concussion.

Immediately following the season, Celek underwent surgery to repair a broken thumb -- an injury with which he played the final three months of the 2018 season.

“I just love being here, this team, this organization,” Celek said. “I think it’s the best in the NFL, and I always wanted to continue to play for them.”

The question is whether the 49ers can find a spot for Celek on the club to finish the season. The 49ers have three tight ends on their roster. George Kittle and Ross Dwelley are not going anywhere. Veteran Levine Toilolo is the team’s third tight end.

Celek said he feels like the big brother to the team’s young tight ends. He has been particularly impressed with the strides Dwelley has taken in his second season. Dwelley filled in at fullback while Kyle Juszczyk was out. He had a big third-down reception last Thursday against the Arizona Cardinals that enabled the 49ers to run out the clock on their 28-25 victory.


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“He’s just made huge strides this year, and I’m really happy for him,” Celek said of Dwelley. “Just his savviness on the field, the way he finishes, how hard he works. He’s a really smart player, and I’m glad he’s finally had an opportunity to show it.”

Celek had the best three-season stretch of his career from 2015 to ’17, catching 69 passes for 872 yards and 10 touchdowns. Last season, he caught just five passes for 90 yards and two TDs while playing most of the season with a broken thumb.