The 49ers clearly have appreciation and respect for Iowa tight ends.
Although the club’s top offensive threat is George Kittle, the 49ers are still doing their homework on tight ends in the draft. The 49ers are scheduled to host Iowa tight end Noah Fant on a pre-draft visit this week, according to a source. Alex Marvez of Sirius XM NFL Radio was first to report the visit on Thursday.
Fant is not expected to be chosen with the 49ers’ No. 2 overall pick. Nor is he expected to remain available when the team is scheduled to pick next, at No. 36 overall. Fant becomes an option, perhaps, if the 49ers were to trade back in the first round or trade up from the second round.
The 49ers want to add another player to complement Kittle, who set the NFL record for receiving yards by a tight end with 1,377. Veteran Garrett Celek and Ross Dwelley, who appeared in 11 games as a rookie last season, are the only other tight ends on the 49ers’ roster.
Fant and his Iowa teammate, T.J. Hockenson, are widely considered the top tight ends in the draft. Fant (6-foot-4, 249 pounds) is an accomplished pass-catcher. He had 69 receptions for 1,013 yards and 18 touchdowns in his final two seasons in the run-focused Iowa offense.
Fant ran the 40-yard dash in 4.50 seconds at the NFL Scouting Combine. His vertical leap was an impressive 39.5 inches – tops among all tight ends. Only five wide receivers jumped higher.
Among the other teams Fant has reportedly visited or will visit are the Minnesota Vikings, Detroit Lions, Denver Broncos and New England Patriots.
After missing the first 29 games of his NFL career due to a knee injury sustained in a pre-draft workout, 49ers defensive lineman Kentavius Street is set to play in his first game in nearly two years.
The 49ers activated Street off injured reserve Saturday to take the roster spot vacated when defensive tackle D.J. Jones was placed on injured reserve. Jones is out for the season with a severe high-ankle sprain.
“It’s something I’ve been preparing for for a while now, so I’m extremely excited for the opportunity,” Street said this week about the likelihood he would be activated to the 49ers’ 53-man roster.
Street is a versatile defender who can line up at any position along the 49ers’ defensive line. He will be counted on to be a rotational player and provide depth. The 22-year-old primarily played defensive end during the offseason program and training camp, but could see more action at defensive tackle.
“The great thing about our defense is, whether you’re inside, outside, playing on the tight end, playing on the guard, it’s relatively the same," Street said. "It’s just a bigger person in front of you. It’s not really much of a change.”
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Jones started 11 games at nose tackle before sustaining the season-ending injury on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints.
Street was expected to be a second- or third-round draft pick 2018 before he tore his ACL during a workout with the New York Giants. He spent his entire rookie season on the non-football injury list. Street experienced discomfort in training camp and was moved to injured reserve one day after the team’s cut to 53 players.
The facemask penalty on 49ers tight end George Kittle was costly but perhaps necessary.
New Orleans Saints safety Marcus Williams was one of three players from the game to get fined by the NFL. San Francisco cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon and New Orleans safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson were also fined.
When Williams grabbed on and didn’t let go of Kittle’s facemask in the closing minutes of Sunday's game, it was entirely possible that was the only way Kittle was going to be tackled.
But the penalty added 15 yards to the end of Kittle’s 39-yard catch-and-run after his reception of Jimmy Garoppolo’s pass. The penalty set up Robbie Gould’s 30-yard field goal as time expired in the 49ers’ 48-46 victory over the Saints.
The play proved to be even more costly for Williams, whom the league on Saturday fined $10,527 for the facemask penalty.
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Witherspoon was fined $28,075 for his hit on Saints tight end Jared Cook on a play that was ruled a touchdown. Cook was credited with a 26-yard touchdown catch, and Witherspoon was penalized for an unnecessary hit to the neck and head area. Cook was diagnosed with a concussion.
Gardner-Johnson was fined $28,075 for a hit to the head-and-neck area on 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk in the fourth quarter.