'Scary start' for 49ers defense against Broncos

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'Scary start' for 49ers defense against Broncos

DENVER -- The 49ers' defense did not necessarily look like the 49ers' defense on Sunday.
All-Pro linebacker NaVorro Bowman (knee) and outside linebacker Aldon Smith (hip) took part in warmups but did not suit up for the game. And third cornerback Chris Culliver (knee) did not make the trip.And the 49ers defenders who did take part did not exactly form a formidable obstacle for Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. Manning threw for 122 yards and two touchdowns to bury the 49ers, 17-0, in the first quarter.The 49ers' reserves scratched back against the Broncos' reserves for a 29-24 exhibition victory on Sunday."It is a concern, but I wouldn't be too concerned with it," 49ers outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks said. "We have some guys out right now in the preseason. If we can just game play for the offense, we will do better on the defensive side of the ball."It's been a scary start to this point."Manning threw two touchdown passes to Eric Decker. One of 10 yards (against the coverage of Carlos Rogers) and one of five yards (against Tramaine Brock). Brock struggled as the 49ers' No. 3 cornerback.The 49ers, as they've done this exhibition season, played a vanilla defense. In three games, the 49ers have yet to get a sack from a projected starter."There was some spotty play and we gave up some easy yardage and found ourselves, for whatever reason, not in good football position when it came time to make a tackle or a break-up," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "So, fundamental-type things that we need to look at."After leading the Broncos to 17 points in three series, Manning was removed from the game."The offense was excited to move the ball," Manning said. "I thought we had some rhythm. We huddled today, yet we still played at an up-tempo pace of getting in and out of the huddle."On the second play after Manning was removed, 49ers cornerback Perrish Cox, playing with the number two 49ers defense, intercepted backup quarterback Caleb Hanie.Cox played the 2010 season with the Broncos. The team released him a year ago as he faced charges of sexual assault. Shortly after Cox was acquitted, the 49ers signed him this offseason."It was great seeing the guys I used to play with," Cox said. "At the same time, I was really focused on football. The victory is what I wanted. Overall, it was a great trip. The players, my brothers, they're the same people I talk to on a day-to-day basis."Cox, seemingly, has surpassed Brock on the 49ers' depth chart. Culliver spent most of last season as the third cornerback behind starters Rogers and Tarell Brown. Cox missed last week's game at Houston with a hamstring strain.Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio recently said he expects to find a role for Cox.But when asked what role he envisions for himself, Cox could not even guess."I have no clue at all," he said. "My whole thought process is just to keep ballin'. I can only control what I can control. The rest is in my coaches' hands."

49ers have already spent more in 2017 free agency than a year ago

49ers have already spent more in 2017 free agency than a year ago

Under the 49ers’ new regime, the club has already invested more in the free-agent market than a year ago under then-general manager Trent Baalke.

Just a reminder: The free-agent signing period does not officially open until March 9.

The 49ers on Friday reached a contract agreement with veteran defensive tackle Earl Mitchell, who is penciled into be a starter in the team’s new 4-3 base scheme under defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.

"As soon as Earl hit the open market, he became a priority for us to sign,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said in a statement released Saturday morning. “A man of high character, he represents everything we want to be as a football team. Earl is a tone-setter who plays the game with a tremendous passion and the effort necessary to win in this league. We believe those qualities are contagious and will help to make our team stronger. We look forward to the impact Earl will have on the field, in the locker room and in our community.”

It was the first significant move under Lynch, who also signed a player with NFL experience earlier in the week.

The 49ers also added cornerback K’Waun Williams to a one-year contract. Williams served as the Cleveland Browns’ nickel back for two seasons. The Browns released him before the start of last season and he was unable to play due to an ankle injury.

Mitchell was available to be signed before the start of the new league year because the Miami Dolphins released him last week in a move to save the team $4 million in cap space.

Mitchell took four free-agent visits and after wrapping up his tour with the Atlanta Falcons on Friday, he and the 49ers quickly agreed on a four-year, $16 million contract that includes $5.5 million of money in the first year, according to a source.

Last year, Baalke did little to improve the roster for coach Chip Kelly. The 49ers, who finished 5-11 in Jim Tomsula's one season, dropped to 2-14. Just hours after the season concluded, the 49ers announced the firings of Baalke and Kelly.

The only veteran free-agent addition who stepped on the field for the 49ers last season was offensive lineman Zane Beadles. The 49ers signed Beadles in late-March to a three-year, $9.75 million contract with a $1.75 million signing bonus. Beadles had a good season for the 49ers, starting 12 games at left guard, two games at left tackle and the final two games at center.

The 49ers have already shown more willingness to be aggressive under Lynch’s leadership.

Mitchell, 29, is a seven-year veteran who began his NFL career from 2010 to ’13 with the Houston Texans. He was a rookie in Saleh’s final season as assistant linebackers coach in Houston.

Mitchell joins DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead and Quinton Dial on the 49ers defensive line. The 49ers view Mitchell as a high-energy player who bring good character to the locker room. The signing of Mitchell could be an indication the 49ers are moving on from Glenn Dorsey, who is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent.

With 5.5 sacks in seven seasons, the 49ers do not figure to use Mitchell in passing situations. The club must try to bolster its pass rush in free agency or the draft. Last season, Buckner and Ahmad Brooks shared the team-lead with six sacks apiece. In 2015, Brooks and Aaron Lynch both led the way with 6.5 sacks.

 

Source: 49ers agree to four-year deal with former Dolphins DT

Source: 49ers agree to four-year deal with former Dolphins DT

The San Francisco 49ers agreed to a four-year, $16 million deal with defensive tackle Earl Mitchell on Friday, CSNBayArea.com has learned

Mitchell, 29, will earn $5.5 million in his first year with the 49ers. 

The seven-year veteran played in nine games last season for the Dolphins. He recorded 17 total tackles. 

Since entering the league in 2010 as a third-round draft pick with the Texans, Mitchell has appeared in 100 games between Houston and Miami, totaling 206 tackles. He has also recorded 5.5 sacks.