49ers claim ex-Browns D-lineman off waivers


49ers claim ex-Browns D-lineman off waivers

The 49ers on Sunday claimed former Cleveland Browns defensive lineman Xavier Cooper off waivers. Cooper was the 49ers’ only waiver claim on the day after NFL teams were required to trim their rosters to 53 players.

The 49ers created the roster space for Cooper by briefly releasing tight end Logan Paulsen in a move that is considered "procedural." The 49ers immediately re-signed Paulsen with defensive lineman Ronald Blair going on injured reserve. Blair was held out of the 49ers’ final exhibition game due to a thumb injury. Blair is a candidate to return to the 49ers' 53-man roster later in the season from "short-term" injured reserve.

Cooper, 25, is 6 foot 4, 300 pounds. He was a third-round pick of the Browns in 2015. He recorded 39 tackles and 1 ½ sacks during his two seasons with the Browns after being selected in the third round of the 2015 draft. The 49ers pick up the remaining two years and $2.9 million of his contract.

The 49ers on Saturday released defensive tackle Quinton Dial, whom the club did not believe was a good fit for defensive coordinator Robert Saleh’s 3-4 scheme. Cooper joins a group of defensive linemen that includes Arik Armstead, DeForest Buckner, Solomon Thomas, Tank Carradine, Earl Mitchell and D.J. Jones.

The 49ers had only one of their former players claimed off waivers. The Minnesota Vikings were awarded tight end Blake Bell, a fourth-round pick of the 49ers in 2015. The 49ers kept three tight ends: Logan Paulsen, Garrett Celek and rookie George Kittle. The 49ers had hoped to re-sign Bell to their practice squad.

Cornerbacks Will Redmond and Prince Charles Iworah, who were waived/injured on Friday, cleared waivers and revert to the 49ers' injured reserve list.

The 49ers open the season with 13 players on injured reserve: Blair, Redmond, Iworah, guard Joshua Garnett, linebacker Malcolm Smith, running back Joe Williams, receiver Aaron Burbridge, defensive lineman Chris Jones, safety Don Jones, linebacker Jimmie Gilbert, safety Chanceller James, reeiver B.J. Johnson and linebacker Donavin Newsome.

The 49ers announced eight additions to their practice squad:

WR           DeAndre Carter
OL            John Flynn
TE            Cole Hikutini
CB            Asa Jackson
QB            Nick Mullens
DL            Noble Nwachukwu
WR           DeAndre Smelter
OL            Darrell Williams Jr.

In addition, the 49ers agreed to terms with running back Jeremy McNichols (Boise State) to the practice squad, reports the NFL Network. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers cut McNichols on Saturday. McNichols gained 79 yards on 24 carries for Tampa Bay during the exhibition season. He was drafted in the fifth round (No. 162 overall).

Inactives: 49ers third-round pick yet to make his debut


Inactives: 49ers third-round pick yet to make his debut

As the 49ers take on the Rams on Thursday Night Football, the team will be without five defenders and two from offense. 

Ahkello Witherspoon, who the team drafted in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft, will have to wait to make his debut another week. 

Below is the full list of inactives from Insider Matt Maiocco. 

49ers building defensive identity: 'We can help ourselves a lot by...'


49ers building defensive identity: 'We can help ourselves a lot by...'

SANTA CLARA – After spending the past three seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, inside linebacker Brock Coyle knows how it is supposed to look.

And he believes the 49ers have gotten off to a good start under the direction of first-year defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, who has installed a scheme based on the Seahawks’ blueprint.

“What’s really cool about this defense is if you look at Seattle, Jacksonville and Atlanta, they all have their different traits, their different personalties and their characteristics,” Coyle said. “And we’re building our own identity on defense.

“You see guys flying around and growing. And this was just our second regular-season game together in this defense.”

Saleh uses such terms as “all gas no brakes” and “extreme violence” to describe the kind of style he wants to see from his defense. In the 49ers’ 12-9 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, the 49ers seemed to compete physically with the Seahawks for the first time in a long time.

On the first possession of the game, 49ers safety Jaquiski Tartt set the tone when he separated Seattle tight end Jimmy Graham from the ball with a big hit. Graham was never a factor in the game, catching just one pass for 1 yard.

“If you’re looking from a progress standpoint, I don’t look at so much production as much as what it looks like on tape and the violence, the speed, attacking the ball, that’s what I’m excited about,” Saleh said.

The 49ers will have another chance on a quick turnaround to establish that identity on Thursday night against the Los Angeles Rams at Levi’s Stadium.

Rookie linebacker Reuben Foster will miss his second game in a row with a high-ankle sprain. Ray-Ray Armstrong started against Seattle, alongside NaVorro Bowman, but Saleh said Coyle also fits into his plan.

Coyle entered the game at Seattle in the first half in place of Armstrong, and Saleh hinted he could use both players more interchangeably until Foster returns.

“He deserves it,” Saleh said of Coyle. “He works his tail off and he works hard and we wanted to make sure that we got him some more reps. And to be honest with you, I feel he should probably get a little bit more.

“He’s a great communicator and knows everybody’s job on the football field. He’s very, very strong at the point of attack and he is pretty athletic and fast.”

The 49ers' physicality is showing up on the early downs, as the defense leads the league in allowing just 2.7 yards per play on first downs. But the 49ers have to get a lot better on the down that matters most. The 49ers rank 23rd on third downs, allowing the opposition through two games to convert 46.9 percent of their opportunities.

“Third down is a major emphasis -- every week it is," Saleh said. "We faced 12 more plays than we needed to that first drive just because a lack of execution on that first third-down and 9. We were in great position to get off the field.

"We’ve got to tackle and that takes all 11 running to the ball because a lot of times that first guy does miss, but we can help ourselves a lot by being better on third down for sure.”