49ers news: Kyle Shanahan gets new toy with tight end Jordan Reed

Jordan Reed #86 of the Washington Redskins (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
Jordan Reed #86 of the Washington Redskins (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

The 49ers added some depth to their tight end room by signing free-agent veteran Jordan Reed, who played under Kyle Shanahan back in 2013.

All offseason, the San Francisco 49ers were tinkering and flirting with the idea of adding another tight end to pair with their 2019 All-Pro, George Kittle.

One of the names often discussed was former Washington tight end Jordan Reed, a player whom head coach Kyle Shanahan personally observed and developed back when both were with that team in 2013, Reed’s rookie year after being selected by Washington in Round 3 of that year’s NFL Draft.

Even though the Niners added rookie tight ends Charlie Woerner and Chase Harrell this offseason, it looks as if the idea of adding Reed has come to fruition, as ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on Monday the two parties reached an agreement on a one-year deal:

There are a few things to digest here. Reed does have an injury history, including numerous concussions, and one of those during the 2019 preseason landed him on injured reserve. As such, Reed hasn’t played since 2018.

Yet the one-time Pro Bowler has remained fairly productive when healthy, although it’s been up and down insofar as Reed’s availability the past few years:

Jordan Reed Receiving Table

Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/3/2020.

It’s not totally clear how Reed’s addition shakes up San Francisco’s depth chart behind Kittle. For starters, the team stands at 80 players and will have to clear one person to make room for Reed. Harrell, Daniel Helm and Ross Dwelley are the other tight ends who stand to lose the most with Reed now present, particularly if the Niners keep only three on their 53-man roster, the other two being Kittle and Woerner.

Yet Reed will have to make the roster for that to be a discussion piece.

49ers’ best-case scenario with Jordan Reed

Reed, while not on par with Kittle, is a good blocker and already has a rapport for being a legitimate pass-catching threat.

Few NFL defenses are equipped to handle two tight ends who are significant threats here, giving Shanahan a dynamic pass-catching tandem to help alleviate some of the Niners’ other concerns elsewhere on the roster, particularly at wide receiver.

Doubling Kittle opens up more chances for Reed, as long as he stays healthy. It’s about that simple.

And given it’s a one-year deal with a lot of reported incentives, it’s about as low-risk, high-reward a deal as San Francisco could have engineered.

49ers’ worst-case scenario with Jordan Reed

Floating an idea here, and it won’t be popular. But with Kittle at an impasse with the Niners regarding his still-pending contract extension, there’s still the possibility San Francisco’s best offensive weapon elects to opt out of the upcoming 2020 campaign.

The deadline to do so is Aug. 7. While Kittle has reported to training camp, and there aren’t any reports he intends to do anything of the sort, there’s still time for Kittle to make some sort of drastic decision regarding his immediate future amid a contract year.

Ideal? Not at all. Probable? Not likely. Possible? Sure.

There are a few days left to see if this comes to fruition. But there’s an outside chance the 49ers inked Reed as Kittle insurance, guarding against an opt out. Perhaps they know more of Kittle’s immediate intentions than anyone else, although this is sheer speculation.

Yet that’s about the worst possible outcome of this signing. And one shouldn’t Reed too much into it.

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Read. Pun intended.