Ronald Blair

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 9/2/21

Here are Thursday’s practice squad moves, with the list being updated throughout the day:

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

  • Signed: LS Steven Wirtel
  • Cut: DT Willington Previlon

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jets Cut 26 Players, Get To Roster Limit

The Jets let go of 27 players today, reducing their roster to the 53-man limit. The team made the following moves:

Released

Waived

Placed on Reserve/PUP list

The Jets added Johnson earlier this month. While the 35-year-old hasn’t appeared in an NFL game since 2018, there was some optimism that he could compete for a spot as Zach Wilson‘s backup. That ultimately wasn’t the case, and with James Morgan also getting waived, the team will roll with Mike White as the second QB.

Jets Sign Ronald Blair

The Jets have defensive lineman Ronald Blair, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The deal will reunite Blair with old pal Robert Saleh, the former Niners defensive coordinator who now serves as the Jets’ head coach.

Blair ruptured his ACL midway through the 2019 season, which should have given him enough time to return for 2020. Unfortunately, something went wrong while Blair was on the operating table, leaving him sidelined for the entire year. Now, Blair seems to have recovered from his botched ACL surgery and he’ll have the summer to prove it.

Before all of that, the former 2016 fifth-round pick enjoyed a spot in the Saleh’s defensive rotation, compiling 13.5 sacks, 27 quarterback hits, and 22 tackles for loss across four seasons. Blair could help provide depth for the Jets at multiple spots up front, including the edge where they desperately need a lift over last season. On the plus side, the Jets’ rush should be in better shape thanks to Saleh and newcomers like ex-Bengals defensive end Carl Lawson.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

49ers To Re-Sign Ronald Blair

The 49ers are set to re-sign defensive lineman Ronald Blair, according to Jennifer Lee Chan of NBC Sports Bay Area. The deal – pending the outcome of his physical — will give Blair a chance to return after botched ACL surgery. 

Blair ruptured his ACL midway through the 2019 season, which should have given him enough time to return for 2020. Unfortunately, something went wrong while Blair was on the operating table, leaving him sidelined for the entire year.

Before all of that, the former 2016 fifth-round pick enjoyed a spot in the Niners’ defensive rotation, compiling 13.5 sacks across four seasons. This year, he could be in line for an even larger role, depending on how newcomer Samson Ebukam is used. The Niners deployed Ebukam as an outside linebacker, but could see more time up front in 2021.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

West Notes: M. Jones, Seahawks, Clinton-Dix

It has been looking increasingly likely that the 49ers will draft Alabama passer Mac Jones with the No. 3 overall pick of this year’s draft, and ESPN’s Adam Schefter said just yesterday that Jones would be the Niners’ pick. But Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network isn’t as convinced. On a recent PFN Draft Insiders podcast (link), Pauline said he is hearing that whether San Francisco goes with Jones or one of Justin Fields or Trey Lance is a 50-50 proposition.

Of course, this time of year is notorious for false leaks and misinformation, but the Niners are at least doing their due diligence on Fields. The Ohio State QB will hold a second pro day, and 49ers HC Kyle Shanahan and GM John Lynch are expected to attend.

Now for a few more West-related items:

  • The 49ers have hosted DL Ronald Blair on a visit, as ESPN’s Field Yates tweets. Blair, whom the Niners selected in the fifth round of the 2016 draft, was a useful piece of the team’s pass rush rotation during his first few years in the league, but he suffered a torn ACL in November 2019, and it was later revealed that the ensuing surgery was not successful. Though he re-upped with San Francisco on a one-year deal last March, he did not play in a single game in 2020.
  • Cornerback Quinton Dunbar recently signed with the Lions, but the Seahawks wanted to retain him, per Brady Henderson of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Seattle has lost both Dunbar and Shaquill Griffin in free agency, and though the club did bring Ahkello Witherspoon aboard, CB is still an area of need.
  • The Seahawks continue to seek offensive line depth. According to Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network, Seattle visited with guard Cody Wichmann today (Twitter link). Wichmann, a sixth-round pick of the Rams in 2015, has managed to land a couple of reserve/futures contracts and a spot on the Cowboys’ practice squad in 2018, but he hasn’t played in a regular season game since 2016. He has 18 career starts to his credit.
  • After the first few weeks of the new league year, the Raiders still have a glaring need at safety, but they don’t seem too worried about it. According to Vic Tafur of The Athletic, the only FA safety Vegas was in on early was Rayshawn Jenkins, who inked a four-year, $35MM deal with the Jaguars. Players like Kenny Vaccaro, Duron Harmon, and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix remain available, and the Raiders actually had Clinton-Dix in for a visit in March. Tafur suggests that the 28-year-old may have an offer in hand from Vegas and could be waiting for the market to pick back up before agreeing to a deal.

49ers’ Dee Ford, Weston Richburg, Ronald Blair Not Expected To Play Again This Year

The hits just keep on coming for a banged up 49ers team that will now be playing it’s home games in Arizona. Defensive ends Dee Ford and Ronald Blair as well as center Weston Richburg all aren’t expected to play the rest of the season, head coach Kyle Shanahan said during his Tuesday press conference.

Back in late October Shanahan had said Ford wouldn’t return until Week 12 at the earliest, but now the team is shutting him down. Richburg was eligible to return from the PUP list after Week 6, and the last we heard about him was in October as well when it was reported he was likely a few weeks away. Blair also was on the PUP list to start the year, and the team had initially hoped to have him back for the start of the season. Shanahan said both Blair and Richburg suffered serious setbacks during their respective recoveries.

Richburg suffered a torn patellar tendon late last year while Blair went down with an ACL tear in November, and both apparently experienced complications. Richburg was the team’s full-time starter at center in 2018 and 2019, and his absence has left a big hole along the offensive line. Blair has played a rotational role as a pass-rusher since the 49ers drafted him in 2016, and he certainly could’ve been used this season as San Francisco experienced a rash of injuries up front, including an ACL tear for Nick Bosa.

Ford has been a big disappointment and unable to stay on the field since the 49ers traded a second-round pick for him and signed him to a new five-year, $87.5MM deal in March of 2019. He played in only 11 games last season and just one this time around after what has proved to be a disastrous trade.

Ford is signed through the 2023 season at over $15MM annually, but the 49ers can get out of his contract without taking too much of a hit this offseason. The team shopped him this past offseason, but it’s doubtful anyone is looking to take on that contract now. Ford had 13 sacks and led the league in forced fumbles as recently as 2018, but his stock has taken a big hit the past couple years. Hopefully he can get healthy and back to his old self soon. In the meantime, unless he’s willing to take a paycut, he’s likely played his last down with the 49ers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

49ers C Weston Richburg To Miss Several More Weeks?

Weston Richburg is not expected to be ready to return when first eligible to come off the 49ers’ PUP list next week. San Francisco’s starting center will need more time to recover from the torn patellar tendon he suffered late last season.

Kyle Shanahan said Friday that neither Richburg nor defensive lineman Ronald Blair will be ready to return when eligible after Week 6, via Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area. Both suffered injuries last season; Blair went down in November, Richburg in December.

Both are likelier to return between Weeks 10 and 12, per Shanahan. The 49ers’ bye week is currently slated for Week 11. Richburg said in February a training camp return was realistic. The former Giants center did not come particularly close to hitting that goal, and a Week 12 return would make for almost a year out of action. A 2018 free agent signing, Richburg suffered one of the toughest injuries to surmount. The 49ers have started Ben Garland at center in their past four games.

Shanahan said the ACL surgery Blair underwent was not successful. A setback ensued, requiring a follow-up procedure. Blair, who the team hoped would be ready for Week 1, has served as a depth piece for the past four 49er teams. Much has changed since Blair last appeared in a game for the 49ers. DeForest Buckner and Sheldon Day are now Colts, and Nick Bosa, Dee Ford and Solomon Thomas are on IR.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

49ers Re-Sign Ronald Blair

The 49ers defensive line underwent quite the shock on Monday when they traded DeForest Buckner to the Colts. However, after resigning Arik Armstead, San Francisco will also be reuniting with defensive lineman Ronald Blair on a one-year deal, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.

Over his four years in the Bay Area, Blair served as a situational pass-rusher and was the primary backup to Dee Ford and Nick Bosa this past season. Blair proved to be a solid option but suffered a torn-ACL in the team’s ninth game. Without Blair, San Francisco struggled to find another rotational piece to competently spell Bosa and Ford.

Blair seemed set to have an active market for his services this offseason, but the current situation surrounding COVID-19, which prevents teams from conducting physicals with free agents, likely limited interest from teams without familiarity with his ACL injury.

While San Francisco has a tough challenge to replace Buckner’s production, the team appears set to hope added depth (and better health) can help make up for some of their losses. Blair has recorded 88 tackles, 13.5 sacks, 27 quarterback hits, and 22 tackles for loss in 47 games over his career.

49ers’ Ronald Blair Done For Year

49ers defensive end Ronald Blair tore his ACL during Monday night’s loss to the Seahawks, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Blair is done for the season and the Niners will make it official soon by placing him on injured reserve.

Blair, 26, was in the midst of another productive year for the 49ers. As a reserve, he had three sacks across nine games, putting him on pace to match or top his career-high 5.5 sacks last season. Instead, he’ll have to try and build off of that in 2020 and the Niners will have to find edge support elsewhere.

Blair was a 2016 fifth-round pick, meaning that he’ll be out of contract after the season. Clearly, the injury comes at a very inopportune time, but he should still find a decent market in March, plus some reunion interest from the 49ers.

The 49ers, without Blair, will look to rebound from the loss on Sunday against the Cardinals.