San Francisco 49ers sign former Washington tight end Jordan Reed

49ers (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
49ers (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

The San Francisco 49ers have reportedly signed former Pro Bowl tight end Jordan Reed.

The San Francisco 49ers agreed to an incentive-laden, one-year deal with former Pro Bowl tight end Jordan Reed. The 49ers have been rumored to be looking for added tight end depth behind George Kittle all offseason.

They reportedly targeted Austin Hooper before he signed a large deal with the Cleveland Browns. After not adding a substantial receiving threat at tight end in the draft, they finally added a substantial target.

Reed played for the Washington Football Team during the first 6 seasons of his career. 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan was the offensive coordinator in the nation’s capital during Reed’s rookie season and when the team selected him in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft.

During his lone season with Shanahan, Reed caught 45 passes for 499 receiving yards in just nine games (four starts) before injuries cut his rookie year short. Frustratingly for Reed, that would become a trend for the rest of his tenure in Washington.

As Schefter mentioned in his first report, concussions have been a trend throughout Reed’s career. Hopefully, he will be able to avoid another injury going forward. If not, another concussion could very easily end his career.

When he’s been on the field though, Reed has been a dynamic pass-catching threat. Reed was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2016 but was even more productive the season prior.

At the top of his game from 2015-16, Reed played in 26 games (16 starts), caught 153 passes for 1,638 receiving yards, and 17 touchdowns.

For his career, Reed has caught 73.8 percent of his targets and averaged 51.9 receiving yards per game (on pace for 830.4 receiving yards over a 16-game season). His production dipped slightly last season, but Reed still recorded 54 receptions for 558 receiving yards.

Many Bay Area followers and pundits, including NBC Sports Bay Area analyst Drew Shiller, wondered if the signing had any impact on the 49ers’ ongoing negotiations with star tight end George Kittle.

Could the 49ers’ signing of Jordan Reed have anything to do with George Kittle?

While it’s technically possible the 49ers could be planning to move on from Kittle following the 2020 season (like the team did with DeForest Buckner), signing Reed wouldn’t appear to have any bearing on that.

Had the team spent substantial draft capital or invested a long-term contract in another tight end, fans would have more reason to speculate, but Reed’s deal only spans the 2020 season.

Even if Reed stayed healthy and showed the Niners they could live without Kittle, he’d be in-line for a big deal too.

Reed is a low-cost insurance option for the team. While there’s no reason to believe Kittle will be holding out this season, the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic make depth even more requisite.

Whether it’s because of injury, holdout, or opting-ou, the team has an option with extensive pass-catching experience.

However, the Reed acquisition has even more potential than just spelling Kittle. Shanahan is surely cooking up with two tight end sets that put Kittle and Reed on the field together. Both have made careers out of making linebackers and strong safeties look silly.

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Putting them together in the same formation as dynamic playmakers like Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, and Raheem Mostert could make for an even more lethal combination.