Veteran tight end Jordan Reed seemingly is taking a huge risk with designs on a return to football after sustaining a seventh documented concussion a year ago.
But it is a risk that could pay off big for Reed and the 49ers this season, his first NFL coach said on Monday.
Kyle Shanahan was in his final season as Washington’s offensive coordinator during Reed’s first season after entering the league as a second-round draft pick. Now, Shanahan and Reed are back together after Reed agreed to a one-year contract on Monday.
“I know he hasn’t been on the field for a little bit. I know he’s very hungry to get back out there,” Shanahan said.
“When you have a talented guy who’s hungry to play football, it works out if they can stay healthy. And Jordan has had some bad luck over the years. I know he’s ready to go. I hope he has some good luck here. And if he does, I think it’s going to be a hell of a deal for the Niners and a really good deal for him, also.”
[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]
Reed, 30, has appeared in just 65 games over the past seven seasons with Washington. He has 329 career receptions for 3,371 yards and 24 touchdowns. His best season came in 2015, when he saw action in 14 games and caught 87 passes for 952 yards and 11 touchdowns.
He did not play last season after sustaining a concussion in a preseason game. The Washington Football Team released him in February.
“Everyone is aware of Jordan’s ability,” Shanahan said. “When he’s been healthy, he’s played at an extremely high level. And he’s been one of the first third-down tight ends in the league when he’s been healthy.”
Shanahan said he typically likes to bring six tight ends to training camp. It was a little more difficult this summer because teams have to trim to 80 players instead of the usual 90-man limits. But the 49ers found a way to add Reed, who figures to join a competition to become George Kittle’s backup.
Reed will compete with Ross Dwelley, Daniel Helm and sixth-round draft pick Charlie Woerner for the backup job.
“It's well-documented that he’s had multiple concussions prior,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said. “So in situations like this, there’s a reason that a guy like Jordan Reed is out there, right? There is some risk-reward. We got to a point where we felt the risk that we’re taking on was worth it with the potential reward.”