October 1, 2023

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NFL Draft 2023: 49 Alabama players pick tight end Cameron Latto No. 101 overall

Santa Clara – The 49ers used their final third-round pick Friday night to add a learning and working tight end behind All-Pro George Kittle.

With the 101st overall pick of the 2023 NFL Championship, 49ers general manager John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan selected Alabama tight end Cameron Lato.

Latu (6-foot-4, 242 pounds) has been a reliable target for #1 overall pick Bryce Young in the pair’s last two seasons with the Crimson Tide. The tight end made 56 catches for 787 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Latu is a former linebacker who is both physical and a solid runner, but has been put down by his need to increase his strength and ability to break down tackles.

Now, Latu will have the ability to learn from Kittle, which is best in yards after contact.

The star of the 49ers’ long-term tight end set is undoubtedly Kettle, who ranked second in 2022, behind Brandon Ayuk. The San Francisco star tight end will not lose any court time, but because of his physical style of play, the 49ers need an insurance policy, and they found it in the draft.

Kettle finished the 2022 season hitting 60 of his 86 goals for 765 yards and 11 touchdowns, and was the far and away pack leader. Ross Doyley caught three of his five targets for 105 yards, and Charlie Warner was targeted twice without completion.

Besides receiving production, the 49ers require solid run blocking from their tight ends, and Kittle is a master of that. He routinely overcharges midfielders to open holes and takes on the lead blocking role for the ball carrier. Therefore, Latu will learn from one of the best people to do so.

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At first, Latu will likely be asked to contribute to special teams, as both Woerner and Dwelley have done in the past. Both veterans have been on the field for the most special teams snaps in 2022. Dwelley has been on the field for 75 percent of special teams plays, and Woerner has been in 371 special teams games (85 percent).

Related: 49ers draft safety Ji’Air Brown with pick No. 87 overall

Most of all, with Latu’s selection, the 49ers are securing their future. Doyley, whose numbers surprisingly dwindled at the end of the 2022 season, was brought back on a one-year deal. Woerner is in the final year of his rookie contract which signed him as a sixth round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

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