One of the bright spots in the 49ers' 31-13 bloodbath of a win over the New York Jets was Jordan Reed’s standout performance.
The former Washington tight end only played 10 snaps in Week 1, but in the absence of George Kittle, Reed took on a more sizable role. He finished the day catching seven of his eight targets for 50 yards and two touchdowns.
The last time Reed reached pay dirt was 673 days ago. Coach Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers staff have been careful with their new tight end, gradually giving him more time during practice. The plan to put more on his shoulders was evident to Reed all week.
“That was great for Jordan,” Shanahan said. “We knew he had a chance to have a big game today. I don’t know what he finished with, but he was the same guy he’s always been. He beat man coverage. His hands were great. He did a good job in the run game and really helped us today.”
Like Jerick McKinnon last week, Reed’s return to the field after an extended time away was likely as much of a relief as it was rewarding.
“It feels great,” Reed said. “All the hard work this season, having faith in myself, and it actually coming true like that. It’s just a great feeling. I understand that I have to keep improving, just keep grinding.”
Reed quickly built chemistry with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo once he was cleared to participate in team drills during training camp. Instead of putting the onus on the quarterback to figure out how he runs his routes on the field, the veteran tight said it was his responsibility to learn the offense and then be where Garoppolo needed to him to be.
“I just try to give Jimmy confidence that he could throw the pill and I’m going to come down with it every time,” Reed said. “It’s great playing with Jimmy, he has a quick release, he’s really accurate with the ball. It allows me to be able to get an edge on a guy and he’s going to put where it needs to be."
Reed might have to adjust to Nick Mullens under center if Garoppolo misses time due to a high ankle sprain suffered Sunday. A positive for both parties is that the tight end and Mullens worked together a decent amount during training camp as Reed was gradually worked back into game shape.