Half the league reportedly has interest in Burton, so the 49ers will certainly have competition if they seek to sign the 26-year-old former undrafted free agent. But San Francisco will enter the free agent period with roughly $66MM in cap space (good for fifth in the league), so the club will have the funds needed to make a real pursuit of Burton, who remains unlikely to re-sign with the Eagles after rejecting an offer from Philadelphia that he did not consider “serious.”
As Barrows notes, the 49ers currently employ two in-line tight ends in George Kittle and Garrett Celek. However, head coach Kyle Shanahan is likely looking for a “move” tight end, a player — such as Burton — who has the ability to play in the slot or split out wide. Other tight ends on San Franscisco’s roster includes Cole Hikutini and Cole Wick, while Barrows reports the Niners aren’t expected to re-sign veteran Logan Paulsen.
Burton, for his part, has spent four seasons with the Eagles but only became a factor on offense beginning in 2016. Even since then, he’s played second fiddle to starting tight end Zach Ertz. Over the past two years, Burton has averaged 30 receptions, 288 yards, and three touchdowns per season, but he’s been extremely efficient. Football Outsiders ranked Burton third in DVOA among tight ends a season ago, meaning he provided value on a per-play basis.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.