Sakamoto: Jordan Matthews’ strong NFL Combine solidified late first-round grade, will 49ers target?


With all 32 NFL teams well represented as they watched today’s offensive skill positions, many players stood out at the wide receiver position. From WR Mike Evans (Texas A&M) to WR Brandin Cooks (Oregon St.) there was no shortage of talent at the receiver position. And with the San Francisco 49ers in search of a viable deep-threat, you can be sure they will grab one in this year’s draft.

Five wide receivers I said to watch before today’s combine took place, it was WR Jordan Matthews that separated himself from the rest of the pack. The cousin of Hall of fame WR Jerry Rice, Matthews was nothing short of spectacular.

The one player I said the 49ers should target in the second-round over a month ago, Matthews did not disappoint. The former Vanderbilt product already displayed his talent on the field, as he holds bragging rights as the greatest SEC wide receiver of all-time, now he just entered unchartered territory as a first-round candidate with a strong NFL Combine.

Starting with the 225 pound bench press, Matthews proved his work ethic in the weight-room by knocking out 21 reps. A number that would catapult him in a tie for second among all wide receivers as WR Cody Latimer (Indiana) had the best performance with 23, it was a great sign to see that Matthews has been putting in work, hitting the weights. Compare that number to Evans (Texas A&M) 12 reps, and you can see where work ethic comes into play. (I weigh only 155 pounds and I can do 10 reps, so Evans will need to step up his gym game in the NFL).

A player I continue to be extremely high on before the Senior Bowl, as Matthews finished that game with two catches for 38 yards, he is continuing to separate himself in a deep wide receiver draft class.

As if that was not impressive than maybe his official blazing 4.46 second 40-yard dash was. Measuring at 6-foot-3 and 212 pounds, no one was expecting Matthews to run in the 4.4′s, but he did. Not to mention, Matthews had a 35.5 inch-vertical, 120.0 inch broad-jump, 6.95 second in the 3-cone drill, 4.18 in the 20-yard shuttle, and 11.84 in the 60-yard shuttle, Matthews checked all the boxes in regards to his speed.

As for the positional drills themselves, well Matthews was solid as I tweeted:

A drill that tests a player’s ability to catch seven balls away from his body while running full speed in a straight-line, Matthews was as fluid as any receiver at the combine. Compare his gauntlet performance to WR Davante Adams (Fresno St.) as he caught all the passes but was zig-zagging his way across the field, you can see the significant difference from Matthews.

Not to mention, he caught everything his way, from deep seam-routes to out-routes down the sidelines, Matthews proved why he is the SEC’s all-time leader in receptions and yards. A player that was ranked No. 5 on my Big Board behind No. 1 WR Sammy Watkins (Clemson), No. 2 WR Marqise Lee (USC), No. 3 WR Mike Evans (Texas A&M), and No. 4 WR Allen Robinson (Penn St.), Matthews just moved up my Big Board to No. 3, while likely being selected as a late first-round pick. 


With the San Francisco 49ers holding the No. 30 pick in the first-round, will they draft Matthews? A would be legacy player from the Rice family tree while playing against the best talent in the SEC, do not be surprised if Matthews is now on GM Trent Baalke’s draft board with a gold helmet next to his name.

Ryan is the Founder/CEO of, 49ers Beat Writer, Live Game Day Correspondent for Bleacher Report and member of Pro Football Writers of America. Born and raised in San Jose, he also graduated from San Diego State University. His work has been featured on NFL Network, 95.7 The Game, National Football Post, Sports Illustrated, FanSided Network, ESPN Radio, CBS Sports 810, and NBC Bay Area News. For more information, please contact him via email at or call him at (408) 622-0996.