Kyle Shanahan says Jordan Matthews is playing the best football of career


Kyle Shanahan says Jordan Matthews is playing the best football of career

PHOENIX -- The stats may not show it but 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan believes Jordan Matthews is playing the best football of his career. 

“Yeah, he’s gotten better just watching him,” Shanahan said. “Numbers have to do with someone calling a play for you, being open in zone, the quarterback hitting you. 

“In terms of just route running, catching the ball, getting up the field, what you do after the catch, how you play the game. I have enjoyed watching him over the years and I do think he’s gotten better.”

Matthews first three years with the Eagles were very productive statistically. He averaged nearly 900 receiving yards per season and scored 19 touchdowns. In his last two seasons, he has recorded 582 receiving yards combined and got into the end zone only three times. 

In his second stint in Philadelphia, however, Matthews caught a career-high 71.4-percent of his targets for an average of 15 yards per touch which was also a career best. 

“He’s played a lot, which is why we wanted to get a veteran into our group to add some competition,” Shanahan said. “We played with a lot of young guys. We lost Pierre, so that was one veteran that we don’t have anymore.” 

Matthews has 270 career receptions which is nearly the total of career receptions of the remaining five receivers on the 49ers roster. Marquise Goodwin, Trent Taylor, Kendrick Bourne, Dante Pettis, and Richie James have 291 career completions combined. 

“I think he’s gotten better each year in this league just studying him,” Shanahan said. “I think his skill set adds something to our group. He’s a bigger receiver who has good hands, very smart receiver and he also can run.”

Shanahan also emphasized the importance of Matthews’ character which is what he and general manager John Lynch look for in players. 

"I know Miles Austin spent some time with him in Philly so we had a connection with him,” Shanahan said. “So I heard a lot about the guy from Miles and that’s real important to me also. You have got to know the type of person you’re getting, not just what you see on tape. And what we heard about him as a guy and what we saw on tape, we think he can help us.”
Matthews has been very successful in the red zone with 16 of his 22 touchdowns being from inside the 20-yard line. That’s not only what Shanahan sees in his new bigger body receiver. He has stuck to his philosophy that it’s about the overall package a receiver brings to the table.    
“I don’t totally see it that way that you need big guys in the red zone,” Shanahan said. “You throw a couple jump balls all year but usually that goes to guys who have the best ball skills and the coordination, not just the guys who have the highest height.

“It is nice to have a bigger guy who can handle some of the run blocking and stuff and just be a bigger body for us, somewhat a bigger target in zones but I don’t see that being a huge difference in our red zone issues."

At 6-foot-3, Matthews is a player Shanahan envisions playing in the slot. He believes the role is not limited to players of smaller stature.  

“They come in all different shapes and sizes,” Shanahan said. “Most of the slot players I’ve played with are shorter guys who are a little quicker and things like that who can separate inside. But I mean, one of the best slot players I had was Mohamed Sanu, who was the exact opposite of that.”

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Matthews brings experience and size to the receiving room but Shanahan and his staff are still looking to add to the group. At this point, it will most likely happen through the draft. 

“I want to continue adding at all positions, and I definitely think we need to at receiver.”

Ravens' John Harbaugh reacts to 49ers' Tim Ryan's Lamar Jackson remarks


Ravens' John Harbaugh reacts to 49ers' Tim Ryan's Lamar Jackson remarks

49ers broadcaster Tim Ryan was suspended for one game after comments made about Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson following Sunday’s loss.

“He’s really good at that fake, Lamar Jackson, but when you consider his dark skin color with the dark football with a dark uniform, you could not see the thing,” Ryan said on the show (H/T The San Francisco Chronicle).

The comments created a social media firestorm, but Ravens head coach John Harbaugh isn’t interested in furthering the controversy.

“I don’t really know too much about it or understand the context of it. It’s not relevant to what we’re trying to accomplish right now,” Harbaugh said, via Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com.

[RELATED: 49ers' Harris to start at strong safety for injured Tartt]

Former 49ers defensive end Dennis Brown will replace Ryan on Sunday’s broadcast in New Orleans.

49ers injury report: Marcell Harris to start in place of Jaquiski Tartt

49ers injury report: Marcell Harris to start in place of Jaquiski Tartt

BRADENTON, Fla. – Marcell Harris on Sunday will be back where he ended his rookie season with the 49ers.

Harris will take over as the 49ers’ starter at strong safety with Jaquiski Tartt out for at least one game after sustaining cracked ribs in the team’s 20-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 13.

Tartt and backup defensive tackle Jullian Taylor (elbow) have been ruled out for the 49ers’ game Sunday against the New Orleans Saints.

Two of the 49ers’ seldom-used wide receivers, Marquise Goodwin and Dante Pettis, are listed as questionable, along with left tackle Joe Staley. Goodwin has knee and foot issues, according to the team, while Pettis has already missed one game with a knee injury.

Staley has missed three games after surgery to repair a fractured and dislocated finger. He is expected to play Sunday.

All other 49ers players, including Dee Ford and Richard Sherman, will be available for Sunday’s game.

Harris started the final five games of his rookie season after being a sixth-round draft pick from Florida in 2018. He did not earn a spot on the team’s 53-man roster at the beginning of this season. Harris was promoted from the practice squad in October and has appeared in nine games this season.

“I’m real happy for Marcell,” coach Kyle Shanahan said on "49ers Game Plan," which airs Saturday at 7 p.m. on NBC Bay Area (Ch. 3). “He’s gone come a long way, in that he was a very good college player, tore his Achilles his senior year, which really hurt him. That’s why we were able to get him in the draft. It affected him his whole rookie year.

"He’s been able to string together about eight months where he has been healthy, and when you’re made of the right stuff, you have the talent and you can stay healthy, you usually just need the time.”

Harris took over for Tartt on Sunday and made one of the top plays in the game when he took the ball away from Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson on a running play to create a turnover.

[RELATED: Sanders has been valuable resource for 49ers' young WRs]

49ers injury report

S Jaquiski Tartt (ribs)
DT Jullian Taylor (elbow)

WR Marquise Goodwin (knee, foot)
WR Dante Pettis (knee)
T Joe Staley (finger)