The 49ers should be on the “Tyler Eifert or Bust” campaign.
Going position by position, there is perhaps more separation between Eifert and the rest of the pack than any other group. He has completely taken hold of the No. 1 spot at tight end, with former Stanford Cardinal Zach Ertz trailing.
In his final mock, Todd McShay has Eifert as high as No. 6 to the Cleveland Browns.
Ertz, however, is a projected late-first to early-second-round pick in 2013. Therefore, if the 49ers want him, they would have to select him at No. 31 or No. 34. But looking at the big board at that time, that seems early considering who else might be available.
And, truthfully, because of the Stanford connection and the need at the position, there has been a mountain of speculation linking the 49ers and Ertz.
However, this feels like a forced pick.
In a deep tight end class, and considering the arguments against Ertz, the investment required to attain him does not seem worthy. If Eifert is out of range in Round 1, the Niners can wait until the third round to grab their No. 2 TE.
The knocks against Ertz are fairly alarming, and perhaps none more than his lack of blocking ability. San Francisco requires that from their secondary tight end—its ingrained in its offensive system.
As a receiver-only tight end, Ertz does not have the strength to sustain blocks at the line of scrimmage.
Moreover, his short arms (31 ¾”), and the fact that he was a system player at Stanford should cause concern. A year ago, Coby Fleener received similar praise but was not the game-changer he was hyped up to be.
The truth is that tight ends look good in Stanford’s offense, just like quarterbacks typically look good at USC. But oftentimes collegiate success just doesn’t translate to the NFL.
It is almost a certainty that one or two TEs taken after Ertz wind up being better players in the NFL. For what the 49ers need from their tight ends, a prospect like San Diego State's Gavin Escobar or Cincinnati's Travis Kelce would be better fit and could be gotten later on.
These are two big guys who can get vertical and, because of their large frames, bring more upside as blockers.