49ers Notebook: Real-life, pad-wearing Jordan Reed puts on clinic and vets on bubble get involved

Photo Credit: 49ers – Terrell Lloyd


When will Jordan Reed put pads on? Will Jordan Reed put pads on? Those questions were answered Tuesday as Reed, sidelined for the duration of the 2019 season due to persistent concussions, did what football players do: he put on pads and played football.

Jordan Reed is making the roster… if he stays healthy

The entire discussion around Reed is about whether he can stay healthy, having suffered seven diagnosed concussions in college and the NFL. But aside from that nebulous issue which the 49ers had thus far approached by keeping him out of pads and contact drills, he’s otherwise looked healthy.

That should not be taken for granted. Reed has had a litany of injuries separate from concussions and has not played a game since December 9, 2018. This is most of those injuries:

  • Pedal toe sprain in December of 2018 (missed final three games of season)
  • Pedal toe fracture in February of 2018 (limited in training camp)
  • Grade 3 left hamstring tear in October of 2017 (eventually placed on season-ending injured reserve)
  • Pectoral bruise in September of 2017 (missed a game), pedal toe fracture in July of 2017 (led to further complications)
  • Grade 3 shoulder separation in November of 2016 (missed two games)
  • Grade 2 left MCL sprain (played through injury)
  • Quad strain, hamstring strain and knee strain in 2015 offseason/preseason (underwent surgery)
  • Hamstring sprain grade 1 in November of 2014 (missed one game)
  • Hamstring strain grade 2 in September of 2014 (missed four games)
  • Ankle sprain in November of 2011 at Florida (missed final two games)
  • Hamstring strain in 2011 at Florida (missed two games).

Sports Injury Predictor gives Reed at 73 percent chance of missing at least two quarters of a game due to injury this season with a projection to miss 3.8 games this year. Sufficed to say, a healthy Reed is a sight for sore eyes, most of all his own.

On Tuesday, there was a glimpse of that once Pro Bowl-caliber Reed, looking like anything but a shell of himself. In one-on-ones, Reed, already the most conspicuous player on the field and made somehow more so by his unique lack of gloves, had just about every reporter eyeball fixated on him. A disappointment he was not.

Often described as being basketball-like in his movement, Reed lived up to that description, with his unique footwork and agility for his size, breaking hard into cuts.

First, he caught a pass over the middle against Tarvarius Moore; an impressive grab against tight coverage and contact which Moore might have ripped from a less sure-handed receiver.

On the second rep, again versus Moore, Reed made yet another catch in tight coverage on the left sideline.

Then he lined up against Jaquiski Tartt, who opened the 1-on-1 sessions by locking up George Kittle and did the same to Chase Harrell.

Tartt hadn’t seen anything like Reed, though, with Reed beating him out on a short route, then closing out the 1-on-1s by beating Tartt badly, cutting to the far sideline and creating a couple feet of space for himself. It was a “we all just saw that, right?” moment in the cordoned which functions as a quasi on-field press box.

He showed up in 11-on-11s, too, though head coach Kyle Shanahan limited the number of snaps he took. With his one clear target from C.J. Beathard, Reed manufactured space for himself around the right hash marks for what would have amounted to first-down yardage.

Shanahan liked what he saw.

“He’s been doing really good on the side,” Shanahan said. “We wanted to ease him back in today. We just gave him a couple of routes in one-on-one. Gave him a couple of plays in team. Not too much. It was more just to get him out there. When you’re not out for a while, you kind of have to go out and get your first practice in, take that monkey off your back. Hopefully he accomplished that today from his standpoint mentally, but physically, I thought he looked real good.”

It’s a necessary caveat, but it’s after Tuesday, it’s the only one required: if Jordan Reed is healthy, he will make the 53-man roster.

J.J. Nelson, Tavon Austin get involved

For most of camp, neither of J.J. Nelson, nor Tavon Austin have looked exceedingly eye-catching. Both have had a catch or two over the course of practices, as well as operating as return options, which heightens their chances to make the team. With Brandon Aiyuk out and the 49ers working out other wide receivers, Nelson and Austin got their most substantial run yet.

Nelson was targeted five times, with four receptions, though it was difficult to tell whether he was inbounds on one of them (it was a toe-tapper obscured from our perspective). Austin had a pair of catches, including a deep pass over the middle, as well as one rush.

At this point, it appears like one of the two will get a spot on the final roster. They’re positionally flexibility, speedy, veteran options who can play special teams on a team which has four injured wide receivers, one of whom is already on injured reserve and three of whom won’t be available at least until the start of the regular season.

Shanahan was asked about Austin, though his answer is generally applicable to Nelson, too, who was signed the same day.

“He came in late, so he’s behind the eight ball at first with all the different opportunities and places you can move in our offense,” Shanahan said. “The more he learns it, the more he can get thrown in there at all three of the positions. When you have injuries and stuff, that does give you more opportunities at all three spots instead of just one. I think he’s getting a lot better at that with more reps, just like all of them are, the more reps that they get. Tavon is a very talented player who moves very well. I think he gets better and better each day for us.”

Everything else

  • D.J. Jones returned to practice on Tuesday, having cleared concussion protocol. His return is a massive sigh of relief given that there was initial worry about a shoulder injury, and he cleared concussion protocol within a week. Laken Tomlinson said he’s noticed the work Jones has put in on improving as a pass rusher over the offseason and that he’s “letting it go,” more, using his unique blend of speed and strength with his frame (and a rip move he clearly worked on) to bully his way past offensive linemen.
  • Injury updates: There’s more background in the recent injury update here, but below is a rundown of the players the 49ers are without:
    • Brandon Aiyuk: “Mild” hamstring strain – Week-to-week
    • Arik Armstead: Back stiffness – Still taking semi-limited reps in practice, but ramping up and limitations might be more related to veteran status
    • Nick Bosa: Unspecified muscle strain in leg – Week-to-week
    • Ross Dwelley: Unspecified foot issue – No timetable
    • Dee Ford: Calf discomfort – Day-to-day
    • Ben Garland: Unspecified ankle injury – Hope is for Week 1 return
    • Richie James Jr.: Wrist fracture – Hope is for Week 1 return, but may get cut/practice squad as spot isn’t safe and 49ers need healthy bodies
    • Jordan Reed: Precautionary – Practiced full pads for first time on Tuesday
    • Ross Reynolds: Unspecified leg injury, removed from field on trainer’s cart – No timetable
    • Deebo Samuel: Jones fracture – Hope is for Week 1 return
    • K’Waun Williams: Calf – Hope is for Week 1 return
  • PUP List:
    • Ronald Blair III: Recovery from ACL tear – Hope for return at start of season
    • Jullian Taylor: Recovery from ACL tear – Out until at least Week 7
    • Weston Richburg: Recovery from torn patellar tendon – Out until at least Week 7
  • Workouts galore: With Brandon Aiyuk on a week-to-week return basis with a “mild” hamstring strain according to Shanahan (the same as Nick Bosa with a muscle strain), the 49ers are working out four wide receivers, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport: Johnny HoltonKevin WhiteRiver Cracraft (verifiably elite name), Justin Hardy
  • Also, with the loss of Ross Reynolds, the fourth potential center the team has lost, there’s a Canadian Football League player being worked out by the team, also per Rapoport: Dakoda Shepley, a CFL runner-up for rookie of the year (yes, they have linemen in the running, but the NFL is too mainstream and not brave enough for that).

  • Weirdest request: George Kittle said Tuesday that the weirdest request he received after signing his five-year, $75 million deal was from a fan who wanted an HD TV. Why? “So they could watch Jimmy G’s chin line,” Kittle said. “I said, ‘That’s not my problem.'”
  • Weird play alert: Unquestionably the most bizarre play of training camp took place on Tuesday. Nick Mullens overthrew Dante Pettis. With the ball heading towards safety Johnathan Cyprien, Pettis, out of range for the catch reached out to swat the ball down, but it deflected to D.J. Jones, who scooped it up, just barely, before it touched the ground. Jones then hauled towards the end zone but slowed down from running full speed and Jeff Wilson Jr. tracked him down from behind and forced the fumble. Wilson didn’t try and recover the ball, and Jones probably wouldn’t slow down in a game situation, but it was a wild end to a thrilling, haywire play.
 

Win!

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