NFL Draft

Potential 49ers draft target considers Kittle a ‘role model'

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The 49ers remain in the market for a backup tight end, and they could take another swing to fill that spot in this month’s draft.

In anticipation of being shorthanded at the position this year, 49ers general manager John Lynch invested two draft picks in tight ends in the 2023 NFL Draft.

But neither provided any hints as rookies that they are capable of stepping up to be George Kittle’s primary backup.

Cameron Latu, a third-round pick from Alabama, struggled during training camp and spent the entire season on injured reserve. And Brayden Willis, a seventh-round selection from Oklahoma, played only sparingly last season.

The 49ers' top backup, Charlie Woerner, signed a three-year, $12 million contract with the Atlanta Falcons this offseason. The 49ers signed restricted free agent Brock Wright to an offer sheet for the same amount. But the Detroit Lions on Wednesday exercised their right of first refusal in order to keep Wright from getting away.

If the 49ers look to re-address the need in the draft, the road could lead them back to Iowa.

Ben Sinnott, who grew up in Iowa and attended Kansas State, has a lot of similarities to Kittle and patterns his game after the 49ers’ five-time Pro Bowl player.

“He’s a huge role model in my game, just what he’s been able to do in both facets of the game, blocking and receiving,” Sinnott answered when NBC Sports Bay Area asked him about Kittle’s influence at the NFL Scouting Combine.

“Especially being from Iowa, growing up and watching him at Iowa, watching all those Iowa tight ends, he’s a huge role model for me and someone I want to craft my game after.”

Sinnott (6-foot-4, 250 pounds) met with the 49ers representatives at the Senior Bowl while the team was preparing for Super Bowl LVIII. Undoubtedly, his stated mindset sounded familiar.

“I want to get into the paint every single time,” Sinnott said at the combine. “If I have to run through a guy, if I have to jump over a guy, if I have to make a dude miss, every single time I touch the ball, I want to extend that play for my team and give myself the best position to get into the end zone.”

Sinnott declared for the 2024 NFL Draft following a season in which he caught 49 passes for 676 yards and six touchdowns. In his first two seasons of college, he rarely saw any passes come his way and was used primarily as a blocker.

Sinnott was a standout hockey player through high school and credits the discipline for being able to stay on his feet for yards after the catch.

“You’re skating around on a little thin blade,” he said. “So being able to take hits and keep your feet and stay on your edges has really helped me with my contact balance, for sure. It’s a lot easier to stay up when you have a full foot underneath you.”

Sinnott could be available when the 49ers have scheduled draft picks at the ends of the third and fourth rounds. The 49ers have one third-round pick (No. 94 overall), and three picks in the fourth round (Nos. 124, 132, 135).

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