SANTA CLARA -- Most of Jordan Reed’s NFL career has been limited to discussions about his potential if he were to remain healthy.
And after what he has seen in a brief period of time, 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo does not have to spend too much time wondering if the veteran tight end could add a unique element to the team’s offense this season.
“Yeah, it would be huge,” Garoppolo said.
The 49ers are ramping up Reed to reduce the risks of injuries leading into the regular-season opener on Sunday, Sept. 13, against the Arizona Cardinals at Levi’s Stadium. Reed has a Pro Bowl on his resume. But he has appeared in just 65 NFL games since entering the league in 2013.
All-Pro tight end George Kittle exited with 30 minutes remaining in Wednesday’s practice due to a tight hamstring. Kittle did not practice on Friday. And Ross Dwelley has been out for a week with a foot injury.
Reed saw his most practice time of training camp Friday inside of Levi's Stadium when he caught five passes for 46 yards.
Garoppolo hooked up with Reed on a 5-yard touchdown pass, as Reed found a soft spot in the 49ers’ zone defense between cornerback Richard Sherman and safety Jaquiski Tartt.
“With George having limited reps and everything, it's given other guys an opportunity to step up,” Garoppolo said. “It's good to see when guys get that opportunity, they're taking advantage of it.
“Jordan had a great day (Friday). He could do things in space and make guys miss.”
The 49ers’ other tight ends, rookies Charlie Woener and Chase Harrell, also caught multiple passes apiece during practice.
“Those guys have been stepping up, too,” Garoppolo said. “So it's a group effort there at tight end, and you're happy to see guys take advantage of it.”