• Bret Rumbeck

Jordan Reed is 49ers’ “Risk-Reward,” but George Kittle Still Doesn’t Have a New Contract

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The San Francisco 49ers have had a capable executive office for the past three seasons. Indeed, general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan are not immune from making mistakes – signing quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley within hours of each other is still a head-scratcher.

Yet, here we sit in the comforts of our homes, on the eve of football practices starting, and the 49ers waste time signing a tight end that makes no impact on the 2020 roster.

The sun has set once again, and the 49ers did not offer tight end George Kittle a new, filthy rich contract.

No, Lynch and Shanahan felt it necessary to sign seven-year tight end Jordan Reed to a one-year "incentive-laden" deal, and then dance around why Kittle's contract negotiation is ongoing.

Monday's tight end transaction is a throwback to the days of inking players missing knee ligaments and offensive linemen who play a better tuba than execute an elementary pass block.

And in typical 49er fashion, both Lynch and Shanahan defended signing Reed to a deal during their press conference Monday, August 3, 2020.

Lynch: "There's always, in situations like this, there's a reason a guy like Jordan Reed's out there, right? So, 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. That's where we're at."

There is an apparent reason Reed is out there, sir. It's due to his seven known concussions and the fact he was still in concussion protocol in February 2020.

Every player in the NFL is risk-reward. The lowest-paid player on any NFL roster could have an incredible season, while a player like Tom Brady could show up this year and look every bit like a 43-year-old-man playing quarterback.

Shanahan: "I think everyone's aware of Jordan's ability. When he's been healthy, he's played at an extremely high level, and he's been one of the best third-down tight ends in the league when he's been healthy. I got to spend a year there with him, so I'm familiar with the person and the player."

Gentle Reader, please keep in mind Shanahan is the same man who heaped praise on quarterback Tom Savage in 2018, calling him a “tough player” with a “strong arm” who had “gotten to play in a number of NFL games, so he's been battle-tested.”

Sorry Coach, but Jordan Reed's “high level” is nowhere near where George Kittle is currently playing.

Kittle was named a first-team All-Pro last season and elected to the Pro Bowl twice. He's also made 37 career starts over 45 games, racking up 2,945 yards on 216 catches and 12 touchdowns. Kittle tallied 137 first downs for the 49ers and averages 65.4 yards per game.

Reed has made 35 career starts over 65 games. He has 329 catches for 3,371 yards, 24 touchdowns, and averaged 51.9 yards per game. One-hundred eighty-four of Reed's catches were for first downs.

Reed's best year was 2015, when he had 87 grabs for 952 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Math has never been my strongest area, but where are Reed's elite numbers? Kittle's career is just getting started, and he is 426 yards behind Reed in career receiving yards.

Talk of Reed’s single Pro Bowl game is equally as confusing. Getting elected to go to the Pro Bowl is equivalent to stuffing the high school ASB election ballot box – and that's Reed's biggest NFL accomplishment.

Kittle's best season was in 2018, where he had 88 catches for 1,377 yards and five scores. And that was when quarterbacks C.J. Beathard and Nick Mullens were throwing him passes.

No, I'm Not Reading Into This

I do not believe in conspiracy theories, and I do not think Lynch and Shanahan inked Reed to a deal to get Kittle to bargain.

Reed is a better tight end than Chase Harrell or Daniel Helm. But if Lynch is going to play the risk-reward game, he should keep Helm on the roster because Helm’s career biography does not resemble a mortician's autopsy notes.

If Lynch is now into the risky side of football, then it makes sense why the team refuses to upgrade its interior offensive line.

After all, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo suffered the most hits, hurries, and pressures from defenders running through left guard Laken Tomlinson and right guard Mike Person. Combined, Tomlinson and Person allowed 10 hits, 50 hurries, and 64 pressures in 2019.

Lynch's first goal in the offseason should have been securing George Kittle's future. Kittle is everything a team needs for succeeds. He is a rare cornerstone player, who lacks ego and would rather run block than catch passes.


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