Cameron Latu

Latu still has chance to emerge as 49ers' No. 2 tight end

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The 49ers were foiled last week in their bid to acquire a backup tight end.

But a man who has followed Cameron Latu closely for several years has not given up hope that he can develop into a reliable, consistent, all-around performer.

Jim Nagy, the executive director of the Reese’s Senior Bowl, spoke on 49ers Talk about his scouting of Latu and the high grades he placed on the former Alabama tight end prior to the 2023 NFL Draft.

“We were on him for two years,” Nagy said. “We had third-, fourth-round type grades, fringe top-100. So I think he went where we saw his value.”

Latu had an impressive week at the Senior Bowl last year. Three months later, the 49ers selected Latu in the third round with the No. 101 overall selection.

Latu had an up-and-down training camp with the 49ers. He struggled to catch the ball consistently. He had four receptions for 55 yards and a touchdown in three preseason games.

Latu ended up going on season-ending injured reserve as Week 1 approached. He required surgery to fix a mechanical issue in his knee, as 49ers general manager John Lynch described it.

In Latu’s final two college seasons, he caught 56 passes for 787 yards and 12 touchdowns. He was the ninth tight end selected in the draft.

“Over his time at Alabama, he was a good route-runner, he was good in the red zone, he was tough,” Nagy said. “The guy played linebacker. That’s what I liked about him.”

Nagy envisioned a rookie season in which Latu could make an immediate impact on special teams while he continued to learn the 49ers’ offense and develop his skills in the passing game, as well as a run-blocker.

Latu (6-foot-5, 244 pounds) remains with the 49ers as one of several players competing for a significant role behind five-time Pro Bowl performer George Kittle. Latu, Brayden Willis and Jake Tonges are the other tight ends on the 49ers’ roster. The team can be expected to add at least one more candidate for the No. 2 job after the Detroit Lions held onto Brock Wright by matching the 49ers’ offer sheet last week for the restricted free agent.

“Obviously, this is a big year for Cam, but I think the talent is there,” Nagy said. “He’s a guy who can block. He will block and he can do stuff in the passing game. So there’s good versatility there.”

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