San Francisco

Veteran Receiver Matthews Must Fight for His Roster Spot

Former Eagles standout was signed by 49ers to provide a big, experienced pass catcher, but he faces a numbers crunch

Just a few years ago, wide receiver Jordan Matthews was a rising star in the NFL.

Now 27, Matthews is in a fight just to make the 49ers roster.

Matthews was signed by San Francisco to a one-year, free-agent deal this offseason and is now in a battle to be one of an expected six wide receivers on the opening-game roster.

Dante Pettis, Marquise Goodwin and rookie draft choices Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd are likely to be on that roster. That leaves Matthews in a four-way scrum with Trent Taylor, Richie James and Kendrick Bourne for the final two spots.

The 49ers brought him in because of his experience and past performance and believe he can help what is a very young receiving corps, head coach Kyle Shanahan told Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle this week.

"We wanted to get a veteran in here (and) we wanted to get a guy preferably with more size," said Shanahan. "We wanted a smart guy who could help be an example, and he’s been exactly that. He’s pushing these guys. I mean, he’s going to be in the mix."

Matthews, a 6-foot-3, 215-pounder who was a second-round pick by the Eagles in 2014, had three terrific seasons to start his career, catching 67, 85 and 73 passes from 2014 through 2016. But injuries over the past two seasons with the Bills and Eagles limited him to just 45 receptions combined in 2017-18.

Matthews worked hard this offseason to prepare himself for this training camp and believes he has a lot to offer.

"I feel like I do three things really well: I get open, I catch the ball and I’m going to block in the run game," Matthews said after signing with the Niners. "I feel like whenever I’ve been put in a position to make plays, I go out and make them."

Plus, he’s excited about playing in Shanahan’s offense, a system he believes allows wideouts to be "creative."

He’ll get a chance to show what he can do in that offense in a game situation when the 49ers open their summer exhibition schedule against the Cowboys on August 10.

He’ll give it his all, but Matthews says he isn’t worrying about what happens if he doesn’t make the final cut. He told Branch his Christian faith gives him the peace of mind to keep things in perspective.

"If somebody is really wondering if I lose any sleep over it, I slept really good last night," Matthews told Branch.

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