San Francisco 49ers: Tight End Injuries Could Be a Problem in Week 4 versus Cowboys

The San Francisco 49ers could enter their Week 4 matchup against the Dallas Cowboys shorthanded at the tight end position. Injuries to TEs Vance McDonald and Garrett Celek may test the Niners depth chart.

The San Francisco 49ers are already having enough problems moving the ball on offense. And lingering injuries to tight ends Vance McDonald (hip) and Garrett Celek (back) don’t make things easier for the Niners.

San Francisco hosts the Dallas Cowboys in Week 4. While nowhere near as defensively potent as the Niners’ Weeks 2 and 3 opponents — the Carolina Panthers and Seattle Seahawks, respectively — the Niners are needing to find a way to get out of their offensive funk.

McDonald and Celek both suffered their respective injuries on the road in Week 3.

And, per the team’s website, both are listed as questionable against Dallas.

If there is good news, McDonald and Celek partially practiced Friday. They haven’t been ruled out for the contest.

Yet this doesn’t mean they’ll take the field necessarily.

Second-year pro Blake Bell is the No. 3 TE on San Francisco’s roster. He has just one reception on three targets this season.

Sep 1, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; 49ers tight end Blake Bell (84) looks on from the sideline during the second half of the game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. San Francisco won 31-21. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

In contrast, McDonald is leading all players at this position with five grabs for 93 yards and two touchdowns. Celek also has five catches for 52 yards.

Quarterback Blaine Gabbert has already developed a rapport with both pass-catching TEs, so this hindrance could set San Francisco’s offense back even further.

With former Niners fullback Bruce Miller no longer on the team, the Niners may be in a bit of a bind entering Week 4. Equally important in the passing attack, McDonald and Celek have established themselves as worthy run blockers as well.

And the Niners running game figures to be a staple of the offense versus Dallas.

San Francisco will probably wind up limiting the snaps for McDonald and/or Celek if they suit up. Bell might see an increased role too, although his production hasn’t exactly established him as a threat.

Hopefully it’s not going to be a major issue for the Niners at home. Things already aren’t going well for San Francisco’s offense.

All statistics, records and accolades courtesy of ESPN.comPro-Football-Reference.com and Sports-Reference.com unless otherwise indicated.

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