Is Hayden Hurst About To Become Jim Harbaugh’s Next Great Tight End?

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Jim Harbaugh‘s team building always starts with the trenches. And while the tight end has evolved away from its inline roots, they still play a huge role in his offenses. Going back through the years of stat sheets, you will find that Harbaugh’s teams often have a tight end as their second-leading receiver. But they can’t just be a threat in the passing game, they must also be able to block.

In his first offseason with the Los Angeles Chargers, Harbaugh has already added two veteran blocking tight ends, Hayden Hurst and Will Dissly. According to early reports coming out of spring practices, Hurst has emerged as a receiving option in the offense. The New York Times reporter, Daniel Popper, wrote of one of Hurst’s days during organized team activities,

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“The standout player in the passing game: tight end Hayden Hurst, who caught seven balls in the practice. Six of those came on throws from Justin Herbert, including a full-extension diving catch on a crossing route in the final 11-on-11 period. The seventh came from backup quarterback Easton Stick, which was Hurst’s most impressive catch of the day. He ran a corner route toward the left sideline and came down with an explosive reception in between two defenders.”

How Hurst Will be Used in Jim Harbaugh’s Offense

Using past offenses as our guide, Harbaugh will use the tight end in the passing game as a quick release valve in order to pick up small chunks of yardage and first downs.

The 6’4″ 245 lbs former Gamecock has had one year with over 500 yards receiving, 2020 with the Atlanta Falcons. That season he was targeted 85 times. That is likely the target share he will receive in Harbaugh’s offense. Harbaugh also tends to lean on tight ends in the red zone as well, which means Hurst will likely clear his career-high mark of six touchdowns.

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