Janoris Jenkins will be in line to make his 49ers debut Thursday night. Not long after signing with San Francisco’s practice squad, the veteran cornerback is now on their active roster and in position to start his 11th season.
The 49ers made Jenkins one of their gameday elevations ahead of their Week 15 matchup against the Seahawks. The team also elevated Willie Snead and signed defensive tackle Akeem Spence to their 53-man roster. While Snead and Jenkins are gameday elevations, Spence moving up from the practice squad required a roster move. The 49ers placed D-lineman Hassan Ridgeway on IR.
A.k.a. “Jackrabbit,” Jenkins has not played since being a starter in the Titans’ divisional-round game against the Bengals last season. The Titans released the journeyman in March, and not much interest appeared to come Jenkins’ way this offseason. But San Francisco, which has dealt with multiple key injuries at the cornerback spot, added him on a P-squad pact in late November.
At 34, Jenkins is the league’s oldest active corner. He has been a full-time starter for the Rams, Giants, Saints and Titans. The former second-round pick has 27 career interceptions and eight pick-sixes, ranking in a tie for eighth in NFL history in the latter category. After being charged with six touchdowns and a 100.2 passer rating allowed while in coverage last year, Jenkins did not see the Titans follow through with the second year of his two-year contract.
Ridgeway suffered a strained pec and is set to miss six to eight weeks. The team had used the former Colts and Eagles defensive tackle as a replacement for Arik Armstead, who has since returned to action. Ridgeway, who made seven starts this season, went down while playing a reserve role in Week 13. The 49ers’ No. 1-ranked defense will be shorthanded at D-tackle. Not only are Ridgeway and Javon Kinlaw out, but starter Kevin Givens is down with an MCL sprain. Givens remains on San Francisco’s active roster but is set to miss time. With the 49ers prioritizing Kinlaw and Elijah Mitchell returns from IR, Ridgeway’s season might be over. Then again, Kinlaw has not returned to practice and cannot be considered a lock to return from IR given his knee trouble. Pro Football Focus ranked Ridgeway just outside the top 60 (out of 125 qualifiers) among interior D-linemen this season.
Following the 53-man roster cutdown deadline Tuesday, many teams will make slight tweaks to their rosters. In addition to waiver claims, teams can begin constructing their 16-man practice squads today. These 49ers, Cardinals, Rams and Seahawks moves are noted below.
Here are Wednesday’s NFC West transactions, which will continue to be updated throughout the day.
The 49ers’ 53-man roster is set, with a couple of exceptions. Multiple players included among Tuesday’s cuts will be back with the team. Some will also stick around via the practice squad. Here is how San Francisco reached the 53-man limit:
Kroft and Willis will be on the 53-man roster soon, according to Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area, who notes (via Twitter) the two have agreed to re-sign with the 49ers. Each is a vested veteran, allowing them to skip the waiver process. A Bengals draftee, Kroft spent two seasons in Buffalo and was with the Jets in 2021. A rotational D-lineman, Willis has been with the 49ers since 2020.
These two will take the roster spots of Jimmie Ward and linebacker Curtis Robinson, who will each be placed on IR. By waiting until Wednesday to move each to IR, the 49ers will ensure Ward and Robinson can play in 2022. Ward suffered what appears to be a significant hamstring injury and will miss at least the first four games this season.
Hasty has resided as a fill-in back for the 49ers over the past two seasons; they have needed him in each. The team currently rosters Elijah Mitchell, Jeff Wilson, Trey Sermon and rookie Tyrion Davis-Priceat running back. Snead and Turner signed with the 49ers this offseason; each has practice squad eligibility. Teams can carry up to six vested veterans on their 16-man taxi squads. Mr. Irrelevant Brock Purdy beat out Sudfeld for the 49ers’ No. 3 QB job. Offset language exists in Sudfeld’s deal, Maiocco tweets, allowing the 49ers to potentially be off the hook for the $2MM they guaranteed him.
San Francisco brought in some veteran depth at defensive tackle today, signing Akeem Spence to a one-year deal, according to the team’s press release this morning. Spence is set to join his ninth team after as many years in the league.
Spence has become a bit of a journeyman over the last couple of years. After playing out his rookie contract in Tampa Bay, Spence has bounced around every year since. Spence signed a three-year contact with the Lions to leave the Buccaneers but was traded after one year to the Dolphins. Miami released him before he could play out the last year of his second contract. The 2019 season saw Spence play games for both the Eagles and Jaguars. He joined the Patriots in the middle of the 2020 season and played one game for Washington last year. After being released by Washington, Spence ended the season on Denver’s practice squad.
The 49ers don’t necessarily need Spence to return to the form he once held when he was starting games for the Buccaneers, Lions, and Dolphins, but having that veteran experience behind starters Javon Kinlaw and Arik Armstead is comforting. The addition is likely also a reaction to the season-ending injury of Maurice Hurst. San Francisco officially made the move today, assigning Hurst to injured reserve.