49ers Add 56-Game Starter Ahead of Playoffs Start

Terrance Mitchell, signed by the 49ers this week

Getty Terrance Mitchell, signed by the 49ers this week

Given the way last year’s postseason ended for the San Francisco 49ers, torpedoed by an injury to quarterback Brock Purdy and a subsequent injury to his backup, Josh Johnson, it is understandable that 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan wants to be cautious about depth at every position on the roster. To that end, the team has been looking for a veteran defensive back, and found one this week: Terrance Mitchell, an eight-year veteran who has played for six teams and has started 56 games.

The move comes as the defensive backfield has been knocked by a series of injuries has left the unit thinned out. The latest came to cornerback Jason Verrett, who suffered yet another setback in his attempt to get back onto an NFL field after a series of injuries.

Verrett was on the 49ers practice squad when he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury. Mitchell, who was with the 49ers briefly in training camp before he was released, will replace Verrett as the team’s emergency option at corner.

Terrance Mitchell Forced 10 Fumbles

In addition to Mitchell, the 49ers added former Titans defensive lineman Sam Okuayinonu to the practice squad, too. Okuayinonu, who was an undrafted free agent coming out of Maryland, played in six games with Tennessee last year. The 49ers have some injury concerns along the defensive line, too, with tackle Arik Armstead dealing with plantar fasciitis—but expected to play when the 49ers take the field in 10 days—and edge rusher Clelin Ferrell nursing a knee injury.

But Okuayinonu is a longshot to get a callup, because he lacks experience.

Mitchell, on the other hand, was a seventh-round pick of the Cowboys, and bounced from Dallas to Buffalo as a rookie before playing two seasons with Kansas City. He had his best years after that, playing three seasons with Cleveland. He earned the starting job with the Browns in 2020, and started all 16 games.

Mitchell started 13 games for the Texans the following year. He played in 11 games, with five starts, for the Titans last season. Mitchell signed with the 49ers just before the start of training camp but was placed on injured reserve less than two weeks later with an undisclosed injury. He has not played at all this season.

Mitchell has 10 forced fumbles and nine interceptions for his career.

49ers Covering Bases for NFL Playoffs

Earlier this week, Shanahan addressed his hopes for bringing in another veteran defensive back. The team had Casey Hayward in for a workout but ultimately went with Terrance Mitchell instead.

“We’re allowed six veterans on practice squad, and we like those veterans to be guys who can help us in a pinch,” Shanahan said. “So, losing JV was tough. So we wanted to make sure we at least got to get another corner in. We want to take a look at some vets since that spot opened up.”

Generally, though, Shanahan likes where his team is in terms of injuries.

“I think it looks good,” Shanahan said of the injury picture. “I think really our goal is to get out of that game (Week 18) healthy. We got some guys banged up. But I think Cle is the one that we’re going to lose most likely for at least a game. But after that we didn’t lose anyone else in the game. It looks like we’re getting most of these guys back that missed that game.”

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