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Jordan Matthews was ‘a victim of circumstance’ and a ‘very tough decision,’ says 49ers GM John Lynch

Sep 1, 2019 at 7:00 AM

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The San Francisco 49ers added wide receiver Jordan Matthews on March 14. Upon arriving, the veteran wideout got to work trying to pry the No. 81 jersey away from Trent Taylor. Matthews ultimately succeeded, and Taylor switched to No. 15.

"It definitely gave me more incentive to make the team," Matthews said in July. "I can't spend this much money and get cut."

It started to sound like Matthews might make the initial 53-player roster, taking the place of someone like Kendrick Bourne or Richie James. Matthews, after all, had something many 49ers receivers didn't: Experience. Only one other San Francisco wide receiver — Marquise Goodwin — had more than two years of experience.

The good news is the 49ers ended up keeping seven receivers. The bad news, for Matthews, is that he was not among them. A lot of that had to do with what happened after Matthews was signed. San Francisco used draft picks on talented receivers Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd, which pushed Matthews further down the depth chart.

"Jordan Matthews, nothing but a true professional," general manager John Lynch told reporters via a conference call on Saturday. "Kind of a victim of circumstance. The draft aligned such that it did that we went out and got two receivers, and that made it an uphill battle for Jordan. I told Jordan today (Saturday) when I talked to him that I'm thankful because of the professionalism that he brought into this building. I think he made our team better.

"A lot of people talk almost in a cliche form about first one in, last one out. I can tell you that Jordan was that guy, and was on a very consistent basis. He did some good things out here. That was a very tough decision for us."

The 49ers tried to find a way to keep Matthews on the roster, but ultimately, the younger talent beat him out, and Matthews is once again looking for an NFL home.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan indicated last week that Matthews might end up landing on the roster, saying how impressed he has been with the receiver during training camp.

"He's had a hell of a camp," Shanahan said. "He's done very good in practice. He's been consistent in OTAs. He was very consistent in training camp. And we've seen him a lot on tape before he got here. I've got a lot of confidence in Jordan, and I know we can win with Jordan."

Two of the seven receivers, Trent Taylor and Jalen Hurd, are dealing with injuries. Nothing serious enough to put them in danger of missing most of or the entire season, though, so injured reserve was not an option.

Lynch said Taylor, who had surgery on his fractured foot on August 9, will not be ready to play by the 49ers' regular-season opener on September 8. Hurd's status remains up in the air as he deals with a back problem.

"We decided to keep seven (receivers)," Lynch continued. "Probably somewhat factored in was the thought that we have a couple of guys that we're not sure of their health for Week 1, and Jordan was certainly deep into late last night, a part of those discussions internally, and ultimately, we had to make a hard call.

"We're excited about the group we have, but it was tough to have that conversation with Jordan. But he took it with class and professionalism that he's exhibited since he's been here."

The 49ers enter the season with Goodwin, Bourne, Hurd, Samuel, Taylor, James, and Dante Pettis as their seven receivers.
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