Tuesday now features multiple late-season signings involving 30-something defenders. After the Lions added Tyson Alualu, Logan Ryan will be on track to make his debut soon. The 49ers are signing the veteran defensive back, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports.
Last with the Buccaneers, Ryan had not previously caught on anywhere this year. His Tampa Bay contract expired in March. Ryan, 32, started six games for the Bucs last season and has 121 career starts. As the 49ers push for home-field advantage in the NFC, Ryan will be a part of their secondary. This is an active-roster deal, with the 49ers waiving running back Tyrion Davis-Price to make room on their 53-man roster.
Ryan brings extensive experience at safety and cornerback. While Ryan has spent the bulk of the 2020s at safety, the former Patriots third-round pick began his career with several seasons at corner. The 49ers pursued several corners at the trade deadline but did not add anyone. They also sustained a major loss in the secondary last month, losing All-Pro Talanoa Hufanga for the season due to an ACL tear.
In addition to Hufanga, the 49ers are without veteran backup and special-teamer George Odum. The latter suffered a biceps injury in Week 12. Both players are on IR, depleting the NFC West leaders’ depth at the position. While this has not affected San Francisco’s post-bye surge, the team has reeled off its most recent win streak with a thin safety corps.
Entering Tuesday morning, the 49ers had only two safeties — starters Tashaun Gipson and Ji’Ayir Brown, a third-round rookie — on their 53-man roster. The 49ers added ex-Raiders and Falcons starter Erik Harris to their practice squad last week and used him in Week 13, calling him up as a gameday elevation against the Eagles. Harris is back on San Francisco’s practice squad.
Ryan played in nine games with the Bucs last season, spending part of the campaign on IR. A foot injury sidelined Ryan for an extended period last year, but he returned in December to help the Bucs hang on for the NFC South title. Prior to Ryan’s Tampa stay, he spent two seasons with the Giants. Ryan signed with the Giants late during the 2020 offseason and secured an extension later that year. After being part of a safety corps that also housed Jabrill Peppers and Xavier McKinney, Ryan received his walking papers — as the Giants changed regimes — during the 2022 offseason.
The Titans gave Ryan a three-year, $30MM deal in 2017; he played out the deal. Ryan was a starter for a Titans team that made a surprise run to the AFC championship game in 2019. This journey was old hat to Ryan by that point, as he worked as a regular for Super Bowl-winning Patriots teams in 2014 and ’16. Even at corner, Ryan has proven a prolific tackler. He has four 90-plus-tackle seasons. Two of those came during his corner years. On the strength of his run defense, Pro Football Focus graded Ryan as an above-average safety in 2022. Ryan has three four-plus-INT season on his resume as well, though each of those came during his years at corner. Ryan has not played cornerback regularly since 2019.
At corner, the 49ers have seen improved play from Ambry Thomas, whom they have used as a regular corner over this four-game win streak. The team, which let Jimmie Ward defect to Houston this offseason, now has two additional veteran safeties in the fold. Despite DeMeco Ryans‘ departure, the 49ers rank second in scoring defense and fifth in yards allowed entering Week 14.