Hoping to extend his career, NFL veteran Jordan Matthews is plotting a position change. Per NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, the former Eagles and Bills receiver is joining the 49ers with the team planning to employ him as a tight end.
This transition has quietly been in the works for months. The 29-year-old recently packed on 30 pounds in anticipation of moving to tight end, attending HUB—a football camp designed as a showcase for NFL veterans looking for new opportunities—at a listed weight of 235 pounds.
Drafted 42nd overall out of Vanderbilt (he remains the SEC’s all-time leader with 262 career catches), Matthews showed promise early in his NFL tenure, leading the Eagles in catches (85), yards (997) and touchdowns (eight) during his breakout 2015. However, the 6’3” slot receiver has struggled to keep a roster spot in recent years, spending much of last year on San Francisco’s practice squad.
Matthews wouldn’t be the first player to make a successful mid-career switch to tight end. Logan Thomas, who began his career at quarterback, was one of the more productive tight ends in football last season, finishing third at his position in catches (72) and seventh in yards (670). Tim Tebow and Kelvin Benjamin (who was ousted from the Giants earlier this week after a spat with coach Joe Judge) have also experimented at tight end in hopes of prolonging their careers.
Outside of Pro Bowler George Kittle, the 49ers don’t have a particularly deep stable of tight ends with Matthews, undrafted rookie Josh Pederson, MyCole Pruitt (currently nursing a calf injury) and blockers Ross Dwelley and Charlie Woerner rounding out the team’s depth chart. Matthews was one of 49 players invited to Tight End University—a position summit organized by elder-statesmen Kittle, Travis Kelce and Greg Olsen—at Lipscomb Academy in Nashville last month.