Paulsen hauled in his lone target for a 10-yard gain as Atlanta defeated Carolina 31-24 on Sunday.
The 31-year-old tight end has almost exclusively contributed as a run blocker throughout his career, eclipsing 20 targets just twice across eight professional seasons. This week's matchup against New Orleans doesn't provide reason for optimism, as the Saints surrendered the fewest number of tight end receptions in the NFL last season with 43.
Paulsen is an overwhelming favorite to be the team's No. 2 option at tight end this season, with extensive experience in Kyle Shanahan-directed offenses. Although there are some new wrinkles to the offense with Steve Sarkisian now at the helm, the unit's overall approach has not been drastically altered from the Shanahan era of two years ago. Paulsen played under Shanahan in Washington between 2010 and 2013, and again reunited with the offensive guru last season in San Francisco. The seven-year veteran is a non-threat through the air, with 82 receptions in 105 games and fewer than 850 receiving yards for his career, but what he does offer is solid run blocking. Paulsen has helped pave the way for four 1,000-yard rushers over his past five healthy seasons with the Redskins, Bears and 49ers (the only exception being Carlos Hyde's 2017 campaign, in which he compiled 938 yards on the ground).
After parting ways with Levine Toilolo earlier this offseason, the Falcons found themselves in need of a blocking tight end. Paulsen has never been a prolific receiving threat in his seven-year career -- he recorded a career-high 28 catches for Washington in 2013 -- but is capable in both pass protection and in opening holes for running backs. The 49ers utilized Paulsen almost exclusively as a blocker in 2017, with the 31-year-old drawing just two targets across 144 offensive snaps over 14 games.
The veteran tight end is known for his blocking prowess, and that is exactly how head coach Kyle Shanahan deployed his third tight end for the majority of the year. He was cut and re-sign a couple of times, but that's just the nature of how one of the last men on the 53-man roster gets treated in the NFL. The 30-year-old is an unrestricted free agent this offseason, but his previous history with Shanahan back in Washington could see the blocking tight end re-signed for a similar, non-fantasy relevant role.
Paulsen was let go by the 49ers for the third time this season in late October, but the team's tight end depth took a hit with George Kittle (leg) ruled out for Week 10 and Cole Hikutuni (knee) placed on injured reserve. The 30-year-old will likely serve as the team's secondary tight end against the Giants on Sunday and until Kittle is cleared to play.
|5||10/7/18||@ PIT||1:00 pm|
|Bye: Week 8|
|9||11/4/18||@ WAS||1:00 pm|
|10||11/11/18||@ CLE||1:00 pm|
|12||11/22/18||@ NO||8:20 pm|
|14||12/9/18||@ GB||1:00 pm|
|16||12/23/18||@ CAR||1:00 pm|
|17||12/30/18||@ TB||1:00 pm|
|2017||San Francisco 49ers||14||1||0||0||---||0||0||0||0||0|
|2017||San Francisco 49ers||14||0||0||---||0||0||0|
|2017||San Francisco 49ers||14||0||0.0||0||0||0||0||0.0||0||0||0|
|Year||Team||G||Fum||Lost||Fum Forced||Own Rec||Opp Rec||Yds||Tot Rec||TD|
|2017||San Francisco 49ers||14||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|