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The 49ers’ defense took a few blows on Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens, losing Jaquiski Tartt to a rib fracture (day-to-day), Richard Sherman to a knee sprain (day-to-day), D.J. Jones to an ankle sprain (day-to-day) and Jullian Taylor with an elbow ligament injury (multiple weeks). In light of those injuries, they’ve made two fairly predictable moves, signing veteran defensive back Antone Exum Jr. and opening defensive lineman Kentavius Street’s three-week practice window.
Kicker Chase McLaughlin was cut on Tuesday to make way for Exum, who made the final roster but was later cut and played in the first three games of the season. He is now behind Marcell Harris — the player he beat out in camp — for the starting strong safety spot if Tartt can’t go.
Street’s return window gives the 49ers flexibility with Jones and Taylor’s injuries. If Dee Ford (hamstring/quad, day-to-day) returns, it could see just one additional roster move made with Arik Armstead and Solomon Thomas used back on the interior more frequently. However, if Ford is out, the 49ers will likely need to make two roster moves, one of which would likely be placing Taylor on injured reserve and making a roster cut (possibly at the tight end position, where there are currently four active players).
According to Matt Barrows of The Athletic, Ford was active in practice for the 49ers on Wednesday.
Dee Ford is in uniform, appears to be practicing today. #49ers
— Matt Barrows (@mattbarrows) December 4, 2019
The move allows the 49ers to assess Street and the rest of the defensive line’s health before making an additional move. If Street isn’t ready, it would more than likely be practice squad candidate Kevin Givens who gets promoted to the active roster (again, with Taylor the most likely roster casualty, going to injured reserve).
The following is from the 49ers:
The San Francisco 49ers today announced they have signed DB Antone Exum Jr. to a one-year deal. The team also opened the practice window for DL Kentavius Street, who was placed on the Injured Reserve List on September 1, 2019.
Exum Jr. (6-0, 219) appeared in the first three games of the 2019 season with the 49ers and registered two tackles on special teams prior to being released on October 2, 2019.
A 28-year-old native of Glen Allen, VA, Exum Jr. attended Virginia Tech where he appeared 44 games (35 starts), including starts in the final 30 games he in which he played. He finished his career with 186 tackles, 36 passes defensed, six interceptions, five forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and 1.5 sacks and earned All-ACC honors two times (Honorable Mention – 2011 & Second-Team – 2012).
Exum Jr. will wear number 38.