SAN FRANCISCO -- When cornerback Carlos Rogers signed a one-year contract with the 49ers after the lockout lifted, he brought with him a reputation for having stone hands.In his first six NFL seasons with Washington Redskins, Rogers recorded eight interceptions. Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said last season that Rogers should have led the league in interceptions . . . if he could just catch the ball."They can keep saying that," Rogers said. "They can keep saying I ain't got no hands and I can't do it. It's just motivation. My main thing is to play the defense, play within the scheme and take advantage of my opportunities."Rogers is now catching them. And, on Sunday in the 49ers' 48-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he ran with the ball, too.Rogers recorded an interception for the third game in a row. He already as a career-high in interceptions with 11 games remaining in the season.Rogers intercepted Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman on the first play of the second quarter and returned it 31 yards for a touchdown to give the 49ers a 14-3 lead.Defensive backs coach Ed Donatell has the safeties remain after practice on Wednesdays to work on catching the ball. The cornerbacks go through the same routine on Thursdays. Rogers said he has been spending time after practices both days to improve his ball skills."He got me running routes and being in a position a corner will be in," Rogers said. "Sometimes the ball's on me quick, and he puts me in situations that might come up in a game."The extra work is apparently paying off. The 49ers have intercepted eight passes in the first five games of the season. The 49ers recorded 15 interceptions last season.Rookie Chris Culliver, who saw considerable action as the 49ers' third cornerback, recorded the first interception of his career. Culliver played eight snaps as the 49ers' sixth defensive back a week earlier against the Philadelphia Eagles."It helped because I got my feet wet playing in my first game last week," said Culliver, who broke up three passes. "I'm just trying to come up big for my defense. I wanted to play a little faster and react to the ball a little quicker. I try to study myself and do it better."
The 49ers on Saturday promoted running back DuJuan Harris to the active roster to be eligible to play Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Levi’s Stadium.
The team waived defensive lineman Taylor Hart to make room for Harris on the 53-man roster. Hart, originally a fifth-round draft pick of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2014, was claimed by the 49ers off waivers on Sept. 5. He appeared in one game and recorded two tackles.
Running back Carlos Hyde has been ruled out of Sunday’s game due to a right shoulder injury. Mike Davis and Shaun Draughn have served as the 49ers’ backup running backs through the first six games of the season.
Harris (5 foot 7, 206 pounds) has bounced between the 49ers’ 53-man roster and practice squad this season. He has yet to appear in a game. Last season, he played in two games, rushing for 140 yards on 27 carries. He also caught nine passes for 97 yards.
Draughn and Davis are the 49ers’ fourth- and fifth-leading rushers this season behind Hyde and quarterbacks Blaine Gabbert and Colin Kaepernick. Draughn has 55 yards rushing on 18 attempts, while Davis has 18 yards on 10 carries.
SANTA CLARA – Wide receiver DeAndre Smelter is getting a second chance with the 49ers to show them, for the first time, what he can do.
Smelter, a fourth-round draft pick in 2015, sat out his entire rookie season to rehab from a left ACL tear from his final season at Georgia Tech. And the 49ers never got much of a look at him in the offseason and training camp this year because of a right hamstring injury.
After being waived/injured in September, Smelter spent more than six weeks getting healthy and dropping weight from 227 pounds to 210. The 49ers signed Smelter this week to the practice squad to replace Dres Anderson.
“I tried to drop the weight down to make it easier on my body,” he said. “I feel a lot lighter on my feet. Just out there running around, everything is a little easier. I feel smoother out there. Everything feels a lot more effortless.”
Smelter did not work out for any other teams during his time as a free agent. He spent most of his time in the Bay Area getting healthy. He traveled to the Dallas area to work with David Robinson, a trainer who runs D-Rob Sports & Fitness Training with a clientele list that includes Adrian Peterson, Emmanuel Sanders and Reuben Randle.
What did he work on? “Everything,” Smelter said. “I’m new to the position. I’m still learning a lot.”
Smelter attended college on a baseball scholarship before transitioning to football. He played 25 games at Georgia Tech, which runs the triple-option offense. In his final college season, he caught 35 passes for 715 yards and seven touchdowns.