SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The San Francisco 49ers added their 15th player of the season to injured reserve Wednesday. Tight end Garrett Celek's season is over after sustaining an ankle injury in Sunday's 17-7 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
Celek is the third tight end to go on IR in 2014 after Derek Carrier (foot) and Vance McDonald (back) were each added over the last three weeks. Celek returned to the 49ers for the Thanksgiving night loss to the Seahawks after Carrier was shut down earlier that afternoon.
The 49ers' tight end situation has been emblematic of the offensive struggles all season. Often relying on two-tight end sets in the past, Jim Harbaugh and coordinator Greg Roman's offense was forced to adjust, but did not get results.
San Francisco ranks 28th in the NFL scoring just 17.9 points per game. The team's top tight end, Vernon Davis, has had the worst statistical season of his career, which has also seen a steep drop off in his run blocking. After finishing in the top 10 of Pro Football Focus' grading for run blocking over the last three seasons, Davis ranks 59th of 66 eligible tight ends in 2014.
Celek played in just three games for the 49ers after starting the season on the reserve/physically unable to perform list after having surgery over the summer to alleviate a pinched nerve in his back. He caught two passes for 53 yards in his three games.
Taking Celek's spot on the active roster is running back Phillip Tanner (5-10, 208), who bounced around this season after spending three years with the Dallas Cowboys. During his time there, he appeared in 39 games, rushing for 149 yards on 56 carries (2.66 average) with a pair of touchdowns. He also made 21 special teams tackles.
The 49ers added Tanner as insurance for the running back position. Starter Frank Gore (concussion) and backup Carlos Hyde (ankle) both left last week's game and are uncertain for Saturday's game against the San Diego Chargers.
Their absences forced reserve Alfonso Smith into action, who played 13 snaps and ran for 6 yards on four second-half carries.
Davis and former practice squad player Asante Cleveland are the only healthy tight ends on the active roster. Long-snapper Kyle Nelson played tight end in the preseason and caught two touchdown passes.