Niners Have Added Tight End Depth Behind Kittle - NBC Bay Area
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Niners Have Added Tight End Depth Behind Kittle

Former Falcons and Lions tight end Levine Toilolo and rookie Kaden Smith will compete with Garrett Celek for supporting roles in the offense

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    Niners Have Added Tight End Depth Behind Kittle
    Getty Images
    Former Detroit Lions starter Levine Toilolo, at 6-foot-8, gives the 49ers a big target as a backup tight end. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

    The 49ers are adding another tight end, and another former member of the Atlanta Falcons.

    Levine Toilolo, who ended the 2018 season as the No. 1 tight end for the Detroit Lions, is expected to sign with the 49ers, pending the results of a physical, reports Kevin Patra of NFL.com.

    With the 49ers, Toilolo won’t be a starter. Not with George Kittle coming off a record-setting season of 1,377 receiving yards and five touchdowns from 88 catches.

    But Toilolo, 27, who will be entering his seventh NFL season, has shown he can be a fine backup, giving his team another option downfield and some help as a run blocker, with his 6-foot-8, 268-pound frame.

    Toilolo, who played at Stanford and was a fourth-round pick of the Falcons in 2013, played his first five seasons in Atlanta (where 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan served as offensive coordinator). His best season came in 2014, when he had 31 catches for 238 yards and two TDs.  In the Falcons’ Super Bowl season of 2016, Toilolo was used infrequently as a receiver (13 caches in 19 targets over 16 games), but he produced when used, averaging 20.3 yards per catch.

    Last season, his only one in Detroit, he had 10 starts in 16 games played and had 21 catches for 263 yards and a TD.

    Toilolo -- who joins several former Falcons in San Francisco, including guard Mike Person and running back Tevin Coleman -- will battle for a roster spot with veteran Garrett Celek and rookie Kaden Smith (also from Stanford) behind Kittle.

    Patra noted Toilolo doesn’t offer much speed, but can “provide a big-bodied target who can get open underneath with his 6-foot-8 frame.”

    Smith, who was a sixth-round pick of the 49ers in the recent draft, offers even more of a receiving threat. In 2018 at Stanford, Smith had 47 catches for 635 yards and two TDs.

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