49ers agree to deal with oft-injured TE Jordan Reed

ByNick Wagoner ESPN logo
Monday, August 3, 2020

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The San Francisco 49ers' search for experienced tight end depth and Jordan Reed's search for a new home resulted in a reunion Monday afternoon.

That's when Reed and the Niners reached agreement on a contract to bring the tight end to the Bay Area, general manager John Lynch said. The deal is for one year and heavy on incentives for Reed, who has a lengthy concussion history.

In coming to San Francisco, Reed will be reunited with coach Kyle Shanahan, who worked as Washington's offensive coordinator from 2010 to 2013. Reed spent one season under Shanahan after Washington selected him in the third round of the 2013 NFL draft. Reed had 45 catches for 499 yards and three touchdowns in nine games that year before injuries ended his season.

Injuries have become a recurring theme for Reed during his career. He missed all of last season with a concussion, the seventh documented since he started playing college football. Because of various injuries, he has never played a full NFL season.

But the 49ers spent considerable time vetting Reed's health and feel comfortable with where he is as they open up training camp this week.

"In situations like this, there's a reason a guy like Jordan Reed is out there," Lynch said. "So there is some risk-reward. We got to a point where we felt like the risk that we're taking on was worth it with the potential reward."

For the Niners, Reed will get a chance to revive his career in an offense that has shown interest in finding a running mate to pair with George Kittle as it looks to deploy more multiple-TE sets than it has in the past three years under Shanahan. The 49ers made a play for Cleveland Browns tight end Austin Hooper in free agency and have kicked the tires on free-agent veteran Delanie Walker.

With Reed added to the mix, the 49ers' next piece of business at the position is getting a long-term contract done with Kittle. Kittle, who is set to make $2.133 million in the final year of his rookie contract, has reported for camp and spent time with Lynch and Shanahan on Monday.

While Lynch declined to offer a time frame or deadline for getting a contract with Kittle done, he and Shanahan expressed optimism that a resolution will come soon.

"It was great to see George again today, and no one has changed. I feel really good about this going forward, and I feel really optimistic about it," Shanahan said. "So hopefully something will happen sooner than later. Not too concerned about it, though."

Reed joins a tight end room that features Kittle but is otherwise mostly inexperienced. Ross Dwelley started six games last season and filled in for Kittle when he was injured, finishing with 15 catches for 91 yards and two touchdowns. The Niners also spent a sixth-round choice on Georgia's Charlie Woerner in the NFL draft in an effort to increase depth and create more competition at the position.

"I think everyone is aware of Jordan's ability," Shanahan said. "When he's been healthy, he's played at an extremely high level. He's been one of the best third-down tight ends in the league when healthy. ... I know he hasn't been on the field for a little bit. I know he's very hungry to get back out there. He hasn't got to do much of that lately."

Washington made Reed the focal point of its passing attack under former coach Jay Gruden. He responded with a big season in 2015 when he played a career-high 14 games. That season, Reed caught 87 passes for 952 yards and 11 touchdowns -- all personal bests.

After that season, Washington signed Reed to a five-year extension worth up to $50 million. But in the next three years, thanks to injuries, he averaged 49 catches per season with a combined 10 touchdowns.

Reed, who had struggled for two seasons because of ligament damage to his big toes, looked good in training camp last summer, but in the third preseason game, Reed came out of ahelmet-to-helmet hitdelivered byAtlanta Falcons safety Keanu Nealwith a concussion.

He nearly returned for a Week 2 game against the Dallas Cowboys, but concussion symptoms returned late in the week. He was placed on injured reserve Oct. 14.

Reed has proved to be a mismatch for linebackers or safeties in particular, especially when aligned in the slot. Washington loved his ability to quickly win against a defender, making him an ideal target.

He caught 329 passes for 3,371 yards with 24 touchdowns for Washington.

ESPN's John Keim contributed to this report.

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