NFL players have reported to camp and are going through COVID-19 testing and protocols. Today, the San Francisco 49ers started an acclimation period, which goes through the next eight days.
General manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan met with the media via zoom to talk about COVID, the status of George Kittle’s contract, signing Jordan Reed, and more.
Kittle Over the Middle
One of the most prominent stories of this 49ers offseason is the status of George Kittle’s contract. The league’s best tight end (not an opinion, a fact) is entering the final year of his rookie contract, which means the Niners have got to lock him up for the foreseeable future.
“We’re working diligently, I can tell you that,” Lynch said. I’m not going to get into timeframes. We are working diligently to come to a resolution. I’ve been on record saying what George means to this place…Had a nice opportunity, the only thing I’ll say, to visit with George today, and I know Kyle did as well, and that’s what you welcome. We’ve tried to be respectful of the agent player thing, but it’s always nice just to talk with the player. I think there’s a great understanding that, we’re in this thing together. We’re partners to try to get something done because it makes too much sense not to.”
49ers fans everywhere agree.
“I think we don’t have to say how important George is to us and not only as being the best tight end to me in the league, but also the type of person he is,” Shanahan added. “…It was great to see George today for the first time. I know you open camp on the 28th, but all the COVID testing and stuff, today was actually the first day that we were able to see all the vets and everybody…I feel really good about this going forward and I feel very optimistic about it. Hopefully something will happen sooner than later. I’m not too concerned about it, though.”
“Football doesn’t matter if you don’t handle COVID right.”
Ain’t that the truth Kyle Shanahan.
That being said, the 49ers are ready, or as ready as they can be.
“…I think it’s deserving that so many people have played a huge role in getting this place ready for our players to come in,” Lynch said. “You think of [president] Al Guido’s leadership at the top, [head of player health & performance] Ben Peterson has been tremendous coming up, taking the protocols that the league and PA jointly agreed upon, but then you have to implement them. Our commitment from the start was that we were not only going to adhere to our County, Santa Clara County’s own protocols, to our state’s, to the league’s, but we were going to go above and beyond that and I really could not be more pleased…So many people have been working their tails off to equip this place, such that our players feel comfortable and their families feel comfortable and our staff feels comfortable. I know I speak for Kyle when I just say how appreciative we are of their commitment to that and to our ownership’s commitment to do whatever necessary to have this be the best possible environment. Does that assure us of anything? No, but it sure allows us to mitigate any risk and we’re really proud of what they’ve done to do just that.”
As Shanahan met with players for the first time today, COVID-19 was obviously top of mind and top of conversation.
“This is the first time we’ve really gotten to see all the players in person since the Super Bowl,” Shanahan said. “I started getting ready for stuff I want to talk about football-wise…There’s so many things I want to talk about. Today’s the first day back, but today…was mainly just addressing those concerns, talking about COVID. I know before I got here, I was a lot more nervous, just how can this work out? I know what our office looks like, and I know what we do – how can we social distance? I had a lot of skepticism before I got here. Then when I did, each day, it just got better and better and then you start to see the protocols and you just get so much more optimistic like, alright, I get how this can work. It doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy, but I get how this can work. That’s kind of what I just shared with the players that they’ve been off and on here. They hadn’t been able to be with the coaches and stuff, but that’s kind of what I just talked about and to show them what we have ahead of us when we’re allowed to practice against each other.”
And when they do practice against each other, it’s going to look a little different.
“When we do, that’s August 15th, then that day we’re really going to have only about 15 practices before Week One. You can’t go full pads every single day. I think we’re allowed 14. There’s only about total days of 15. So, I don’t know how many we’re going to get in, but it’s not going to be what you’re used to. That’s when we’re going to really start hitting it hard. We have a ten day deal right now where we’re social distancing, lifting, conditioning, getting prepared to really compete. That’s what’s different than every other aspect. So, I’m trying to slow it down a little bit, focus on COVID, things like that now. I know as it starts getting into it and we get closer into practicing against each other, then a lot more football stuff will come in.”
Welcome to Santa Clara, Jordan Reed
The San Francisco 49ers did sign a tight end today, and that tight end was Jordan Reed.
Reed comes to the 49ers having not played since 2018, due to injury. He suffered his seventh concussion in a preseason game in August 2019 and the Washington Football Team released him in February.
“..[I]t’s well documented [Reed has had] multiple concussions prior,” Lynch said. “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.”
Reed reunites with Shanahan, who was his offensive coordinator in Washington in 2013.
“…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…” said Shanahan. “I got to spend a year there with him, so I’m familiar with the person and the player…I know he hasn’t been on the field for a little bit…I know he’s hungry to come in and play football. He hasn’t gotten to do much of that lately and when you have a talented guy who’s hungry to play football, it works out if they can stay healthy. Jordan’s 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.”
News and Notes
- Wide receiver Richie James, Jr. is coming off the COVID-19/Reserve list and to the active NFI list with his hand and thumb injury.
- Defensive back D.J. Reed will be put on the reserve NFI, which will effectively end his season.
- Wide receiver Shawn Poindexter and defensive lineman Kentavius Street will be coming off the PUP list and onto the active roster.