Delanie Walker isn’t the most famous tight end on the 49ers, but he’s been an important cog for the team this season.
So it’s a big deal that he’ll be out for a while. Walker injured his jaw when Seattle linebacker Leroy Hill unintentionally kicked him in the face while chasing Frank Gore on Saturday. Coach Jim Harbaugh said Monday that Walker’s prognosis isn’t known yet, but that the team is planning to be without him for “a period of time.”
Per Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com, the team will explore all of its options when it comes to replacing Walker but they won’t place him on injured reserve if there’s any chance he’d be ready to return before the Super Bowl. Walker only had 19 catches for 198 yards this season, including the game-winner against Detroit, but he played a big role in the team’s two tight end sets.
While Walker didn’t wind up with many catches, he was an option teams had to respect enough as a receiver that overloading against the run when he’s on the field wasn’t an option. Mike Sando of ESPN.com crunched some numbers and found Walker was on the field for 58.7 percent of the team’s snaps this season, including 40.4 percent of their third downs. The Niners gained 56 percent of their total yards with two tight ends on the field and got almost 64 percent of their rushing yards out of those formations.
The only other tight end currently on San Francisco’s roster is Justin Peelle and they have Konrad Reuland on the practice squad.