Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates, Jimmy Graham ... Brock Lutes?
The 49ers will take a look at the latest basketball player making the switch to tight end when they visit this month with Lutes, a former point guard. Lutes played for 49ers general manager Trent Baalke's alma mater, Bemidji State, and was conference leader in scoring during the 2013-14 season.
At the close of the most recent season, Lutes decided to try his hand at football. He played several positions in high school -- running back, receiver, linebacker, return man -- and was offered a full scholarship to play football by Washington State. But grades and test scores prevented him from attending. Instead he played basketball, first at Iowa Western and then Bemidji State. Baalke presumably has watched Lutes, who stood out at the position for his size -- he played at 215 pounds -- and muscular physique.
The 49ers are expected to take a tight end in the draft. Unlike last year, Vernon Davis is on hand for the team's offseason program. But he's also going into the final year of his contract. Two other players at the position, Garrett Celek and Vance McDonald, suffered back injuries last year.
Lutes obviously would be a project and is unlikely to be drafted. But his basketball background translates to good lateral quickness and leaping skills. After the basketball season ended, Lutes only was able to train for his pro day session for three weeks. At 230 pounds, his 4.21-second short shuttle was faster than that of all the tight ends invited to the combine.
His progression could be similar to that of 49ers tight end Derek Carrier. He entered the league as a wide receiver and spent time on the 49ers' practice squad transitioning to tight end. He signed a two-year contract extension last month, signaling a bigger role for the upcoming season.
Read Matt Barrows’ blogs and archives at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers.