Why the 49ers Signed Jordan Matthews to Play Tight End

Matthews, 29, appeared in one game for the 49ers in 2019, and two for the 49ers in 2020, although he never has caught a pass for them.
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The 49ers brought back a familiar face to play a new position on Friday when they signed former wide receiver Jordan Matthews to play tight end.

Matthews, 29, appeared in one game for the 49ers in 2019, and two for the 49ers in 2020, although he never has caught a pass for them. He seems to be a favorite of head coach Kyle Shanahan.

This offseason, Matthews caught passes from Trey Lance during Lance's second Pro Day workout. Perhaps Matthews gave the 49ers intel on Lance and helped them decide to draft him.

Matthews also changed positions this offseason. He bulked up from a 215-pound slot receiver to a 235-pound tight end, and even attended "Tight End University" -- a three-day event hosted by George Kittle, during which tight ends from all around the NFL came together and worked on their craft.

All offseason, it seemed likely the 49ers would sign Matthews eventually -- they've signed him twice before. But the 49ers didn't have a need a tight end when training camp started. They had Kittle, Ross Dwelley, Charlie Woerner and MyCole Pruitt, a veteran the 49ers signed this offseason.

But Pruitt went down on Day 2 of training camp with a calf injury, so the 49ers called Matthews to replace him.

Matthews and Pruitt are on opposite ends of the tight end spectrum. Pruitt is a blocking specialist, while Matthews is a receiving specialist who's learning how to block. Still, Matthews will help the 49ers get through the next two weeks of practices. Whether he actually plays in a game will depend on the health of the tight ends in front of him.