49ers: Why Isn’t 6’6 TE Blake Bell Being Utilized in Chip Kelly’s Offense?

Why isn’t San Francisco 49ers’ tight end Blake Bell who stands at 6′ 6″ and 252lbs being utilized in head coach Chip Kelly’s offense? Here at Niners Live, we had to asks the question that all fans want to know? Where’s Blake Bell? A.K.A the “Belldozer.”

 

Blake Bell was drafted out of Oklahoma with the 117th pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. Before we get into some scouting reports, breakdowns of his skill sets, attributes, and why he’s not being utilized, let’s recap some highlights on what he does well, shall we? Ok, let’s.

Next, the scouting reports? Via the team’s website

NFL.com: “Looks good on the hoof with a frame suited to add just a little more weight. A former quarterback with a feel for space when running routes against the zone. Confident pass-catcher with the ability to run through safeties and maximize each catch. Plays with a competitive spirit and very coachable. Improved by leaps and bounds as a blocking tight end. Keeps hands inside and plays with wide base and ability to sustain in pass protection. Had reps in which he held his own against Baylor defensive end Shawn Oakman.”

CBSSports: “Three-year starter at quarterback in college who is still very raw. But at 6-foot-6 and 252 pounds with long arms and big hands, he has the tools to develop into an all-around tight end.”

Sports Illustrated: “Good size, moves well for his frame. Bruising, straight-forward runner … nicknamed “Bell Dozer.” Good hands for a player new to the position. Willing blocker and not afraid of contact. Ran well at the combine—second in the 20-yard shuttle (4.32) at the position. Unlike former QBs like Tim Tebow or Eric Crouch, Bell willing to give up the position to continue his football career—says he’s all tight end now.”

 

What can he do?

Well, let’s consider this—he’s 6′ 6″ and 252lbs, tough, can catch, willing effective blocker, can play short yardage situations run or pass on the goal line, special teams on fake field goals or punts, two-point conversions, and tight end. In fact, how about lining him up in the red zone spread out wide, matched up against a 5’10” to 6’0″ defensive back, let him jump up and use his size and length to come down with the catch for a touchdown or draw a penalty (P.I.)?

Important to note: Bell’s 2015 statistics—15 catches in 14 games he appeared in, with five starts under his belt for 186 yards at 12.4 YPC , and a 48-yard catch and run being his longest play from scrimmage. Shall we fast forward to 2016 numbers? Bell’s accounted for two catches for 10 yards in the seven games he’s appeared in, while averaging 5.0 YPC and no starts on five targets. Via NFL.com. 

Why isn’t he being utilized? Good question. Since we can’t ask head coach Chip Kelly directly, at least not right now at this moment anyway, but that could change in the future. However, for now, let’s just go off what we know and what’s that, you say?

Well, allow me to leave you with this: 

Chip Kelly in Philly incorporated and at times featured tight ends Brent Celek and Zach Ertz during his three-year tenure from 2013-2015. The results? Both were targeted 392 times combined, for 260 catches and 19 touchdowns, via NFL.com. Both tight ends are 6′ 4″ and 6′ 5″, respectively, in the similar stature as the 49ers’ tight ends Vance McDonald, Garret Celek, Brent’s younger brother and, of course, Bell.

So why can’t he duplicate this same success? Or even half? Could it be he’s facing a tougher division and strength of schedule with more experience coaching? Better defenses that have evolved with better athletes?  Therefore, he’s having a harder time incorporating personnel or scheming players open? Game planning? Or making adjustments? Or putting players in position to make plays?

Yes, those very well could be the answers to all the questions aforementioned. In any event, when your 1-7, you have to see at least what you have or don’t have in your young players moving forward. At this point, if Kelly refuses to utilize the talent the 49ers do have, or if he and his coaching staff lack the ability to put players in positions to be successful, then how does that really help the 49ers in the short- or long-term? And does his coaching staff other than the great Tom Rathman have experience with developing young raw talent? If you answered no and yes to the questions above, then your “eyes are wide open.”

All records, statistics, and accolades are courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com, Pro Football Focus,49ers.com, ESPN.com , NFL.com unless otherwise indicated.