Training Camp News: 49ers Tight End Jordan Matthews Tears ACL

49ers stadium
"San Francisco 49ers Panorama" by Aaron Sholl is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

Training camp and exhibition season in the NFL is exciting for a lot of teams and players. The slate is reset every July and August, and players have a chance to show the coaching staff what they bring to the table ahead of the new season. What someone did in prior years, in college, or for different teams is relegated to irrelevancy. Everyone has to prove themselves all over again.

San Francisco 49ers tight end Jordan Matthews was one of those players looking to change the trajectory of his career this summer. Unfortunately, he won’t be able to contribute in 2022, as he suffered a torn ACL that will end his season before it ever started.

Jordan Matthews Career Summary

A second round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2014, Matthews appeared to have a path to effectiveness and an opportunity to be a valuable contributor for years to come. The Eagles were coached by Chip Kelly at that time, who was known for a hurry up style of offense that maximized snaps under center. Philadelphia had an uneven quarterback situation, as they oscillated between Nick Foles and Mark Sanchez. Still, Matthews had a solid rookie season recording 872 yards on 67 catches, and scored eight touchdowns through the air.

Although Philadelphia was not quite able to duplicate the same success they had in 2014, Matthews took a step forward as a primary focus of the offense. He established career highs across the board with 997 yards receiving on 85 catches, and another eight touchdowns. Although he wasn’t starting in every game, he was appearing in most of them, and largely had a positive impact.

That was probably as good as it got for the former Vanderbilt star. Knee tendinitis issues started to creep up after that. Matthews was still able to battle through the discomfort in 2016 for a decent third season with the Eagles, but his average yards per catch and average yards per target were heading in the wrong direction, as he was becoming more of a possession player.

He was traded to the Buffalo Bills ahead of the 2017 season, but it turned out to be a nightmare stretch. He injured his chest in his very first practice with the team. Once he was healthy enough to return, he played ineffectively in 10 games, and then missed the end of the season with more knee troubles.

Jordan Matthews was in camp with the New England Patriots in 2018, but suffered a significant hamstring injury that led the team to release him. He would latch back on with the Eagles once he was cleared to play, but was an afterthought on offense.

Moving Forward

Since the 2019 season, Matthews has only appeared in six games. It was clear that his days as an attractive playmaking wide receiver were numbered. With his NFL career in jeopardy, he announced that he was moving to tight end in June 2021. By that point, he was already with the San Francisco 49ers, and wanted to remake his body and his game.

The 49ers deploy the run a lot, making Matthews desire to play tight end and contribute in other ways understandable. This latest injury will put his career in doubt, and we will see if he is able to continue on in the NFL in 2023.