Monday was the first time the entire 49ers team assembled since the conclusion of Super Bowl LIV. It was also the first time both John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan addressed the media together during an opening conference call for the start of training camp. The duo addressed several topics ranging from George Kittle's contract status, how the organization is adjusting to the effects of COVID-19, to recent changes to the 49ers roster among other topics. Here are four takeaways from Lynch and Shanahan's conference call.
Updates on George Kittle
Despite being in the middle of contract negotiations, San Francisco's star tight end was on hand for the start of training camp. Monday was the first time players were allowed inside the team's facility beyond the on-going series of COVID testing, meaning, the head coach and general manager's first interaction with veteran players, Kittle included.
Outside of discussions with Kittle's reps, both parties spoke face-to-face for the first time this offseason on Monday. According to the duo, both sides recognize the importance of getting a deal done and the 49ers are optimistic a long-term extension will emerge.
"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. We're doing everything we can to get that done," Shanahan said. "It was great to see George again today. No one's changed. I feel really good about this going forward, and I feel very optimistic about it. So, hopefully something will happen sooner than later. I'm not too concerned about it, though."
Added Lynch: "I can tell you that 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... 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."
Addition of Jordan Reed
Lynch confirmed ESPN's NFL insider Adam Schefter's report of the 49ers addition of former Washington tight end Jordan Reed. Reed spent his first six seasons with Washington, including his rookie year under the guidance of Shanahan, before missing the 2019 campaign with a concussion. Reed has missed 47 games over his career, with three seasons ending on Injured Reserve. However, when healthy, Reed has been recognized as one the league's premiere tight ends.
According to Jeff Deeney of Pro Football Focus, Reed was Top 3 in receiving grades among tight ends in 2015 and 2016 and earned a 75.2 receiving grade during his final active season in 2018. The 49ers are hopeful the tight end can remain healthy in his fresh start in San Francisco as added depth behind Kittle.
"It's well-documented he's had multiple concussions prior," Lynch said. "In situations like this, there's a reason a guy like Jordan Reed is out there. 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."
Added Shanahan: "I know he hasn't been on the field for a little bit. I know he's very hungry to play football. He hasn't gotten to do much of that lately. When you have a talented guy who is hungry to play football, it works out if they can stay healthy. And 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."
In addition to the signing of Reed, Lynch also announced moves for other members of the 49ers. Wide receiver Richie James Jr., who was placed on the team's Reserve/Covid-19 list last week, has been moved to the Active/NFI list. The wideout suffered a broken wrist this offseason. There are no updates on his timetable for return.
D.J. Reed Jr. suffered a pectoral injury while training this offseason, forcing the team to place the defensive back on the Reserve/NFI list, ending his hopes for the 2020 campaign.
"The earliest we might have had D.J. back was early November," Lynch explained. "It's a four to six-month injury. It's been an active conversation Kyle, myself and the medical folks have been having. Ultimately, it's too difficult to keep a roster spot for something that may go into December."
Additionally, defensive lineman Kentavius Street and receiver Shawn Poindexter are moving from the Physically Unable to Perform list (PUP) to the active roster. Street was moved to the active roster from Injured Reserve last December, appearing in three games and tallying four tackles before being placed back on IR ahead of the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Poindexter returns after suffering a torn ACL in the preseason last year.
According to NFL.com, under the amended collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and NFL Players Association (NFLPA), players have the choice to opt out of the 2020 NFL season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
So far, no members of the 49ers, including the team's coaching staff, have decided to opt-out for the 2020 season. As of Monday, 46 NFL players across 23 teams have decided to forgo the upcoming season amid COVID-19 concerns. As it currently stands, the deadline for players to opt-out could be as early as Thursday, per Schefter.
"You just want everyone to know that there's no right or wrong answer. It's what you're comfortable with," Shanahan said. "The guys, they know there's not pressure. We'll work through it and figure out what we can do based off how they feel. We've been here for a couple weeks with coaches. Players are coming in more. While we've been here, guys have felt better and better each day. So, I do feel so much better with that than I did in the past."