49ers

49ers agree to terms with Jeremy Kerley on three-year deal

49ers agree to terms with Jeremy Kerley on three-year deal

The San Francisco 49ers have confirmed they have come to a contract agreement with wide receiver Jeremy Kerley. 

The new contract is for three years and a reported $10.5 million. 

Kerley was set to become an unrestricted free agent on Thursday. 

"We are very excited to be able to keep a player and teammate like Jeremy in red and gold," 49ers general manager John Lynch said in a statement. "As we evaluated the roster, his production on the field really impressed us and we believe he is a great fit for our scheme. As we learned more and more about him, it became obvious his teammates have a great deal of respect for Jeremy as well. He is a true pro who is an asset to this team on offense, special teams and in the locker room."

Kerley enjoyed one of his best seasons last year with the 49ers. His 64 catches were a career best and led all San Francisco receivers. Kerley's 667 receiving yards were the second most he's ever posted and tops on the team as well. He also caught three touchdowns -- good for second best on the team. 

He also returned 21 punts for 158 yards as the team’s primary punt returner. 

Kerley was acquired by the 49ers in a trade with the Detroit Lions on August 29, 2016.

Kerley was originally selected in the fifth round (153rd overall) of the 2011 NFL Draft by the New York Jets. In five seasons with the Jets (2011-15), he played in 74 games (24 starts) and registered 182 receptions for 2,225 yards (12.2 average) and nine touchdowns. He led the Jets in total receptions and receiving yards during his time with the team. Kerley has also returned 134 punts for 1,250 yards and one touchdown during his career. 

In 2015, he registered a career-high 411 punt return yards, which ranked second in the NFL (RB Darren Sproles, Phi. – 446). Kerley signed with the Lions on March 21, 2016 following his release from the Jets on March 9, 2016.

A 27-year-old native of Hutto, TX, Kerley appeared in 50 games (21 starts) at Texas Christian University. He finished his career with 120 receptions for 1,299 yards and 12 touchdowns as well as 63 rushing attempts for 306 yards and eight touchdowns. He also returned 94 punts for 1,299 yards (13.8 average) and two touchdowns, and 37 kickoff returns for 1,006 (27.2 average). As a senior in 2010, he earned First-Team All-Mountain West Conference honors as a returner and Second-Team honors as a wide receiver, in addition to being named MWC Special Teams Player of the Year.

49ers media services contributed to this report. 

 

What rookie CB Ahkello Witherspoon did to earn role in 49ers' defense

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USATSI

What rookie CB Ahkello Witherspoon did to earn role in 49ers' defense

SANTA CLARA – Rookie cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon did not win the right to suit up for the 49ers’ first four games. Behind the scenes, he made it his mission to earn a contributing role.

“He really started to get better with his coordination with his feet from the bump-and-run coverage and from playing ‘off.’ There’s always a light that goes on,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “And we felt that for a couple weeks from Ahkello. Once he did that, he definitely earned the right to be out there.”

The plan was for Witherspoon to rotate into the action and share time with starters Rashard Robinson and Dontae Johnson. But he played just six snaps on Oct. 8 against Indianapolis before sustaining a concussion. Witherspoon returned to action last week and played 34 of the 49ers’ 74 snaps last week at Washington. He showed enough to coninue getting significant playing time.

“He’s earned the right to play,” 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said. “He works his tail off in practice. He’s so deliberate in his approach. Whether it was scout team, whether it was team reps, whether it was walk-through, it didn’t matter.”

Witherspoon, the 49ers’ third-round draft pick at No. 66 overall, had a pedestrian training camp. Taking his lumps in August showed him what he needed to do to get into real games in October.

“I really turned up my focus, my intent every day in practice,” Witherspoon said. “What I did in camp wasn’t good enough to be a starting corner in this league, and that’s what I learned.

“I really focused on being aware of what it takes. That’s something I implemented these last four weeks -- that every day focus and competing on every single ball, and taking the mindset that no ball’s caught on me. I think that’s really helped my game, and helped these coaches trust me, as well.”

Witherspoon expected Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins to attack him. But of the 25 plays he was in coverage last week, Witherspoon saw only three passes come his way. He surrendered two receptions for 33 yards, according to Pro Football Focus.

“Just being a rookie, I thought it was going to come, where they were going to be taking that one shot,” Witherspoon said. “I kept waiting for it to happen, but it didn’t happen. Going up against a smart quarterback, I know he saw me out there.

“There were a few times he looked my way in coverage. I wasn’t perfect in coverage, but I think he was looking. And I thought I did a good job.”

Witherspoon (6 foot 3, 195 pounds) is comfortable lining up on either side of the field, which he did during his college career at Colorado. He said he has not put on much weight but he has added more muscle, which has allowed him a better chance to compete physically against bigger NFL receivers.

Witherspoon fully expects to be challenged on Sunday when he is expected to see considerable playing time against the Dallas Cowboys at Levi’s Stadium. Witherspoon figures Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott will be paying particularly close attention any time Dez Bryant lines up on his side of the field.

“They’re going to be looking at the ‘rook,’ ” Witherspoon said.

Said Shanahan, “They’re going to try to do that with all our DBs, so I don’t think it even matters who’s out there. They’re going to attack when we’re in single safety, which we are the majority of the time. They’re going to go outside and keep going out there until you stop them.”

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Watch Kyle Shanahan's full sit-down interview with Matt Maiocco on "49ers Game Plan," which is scheduled to air Saturday at 9 p.m. on NBC Bay Area (Ch. 3).

49ers wide receiver Pierre Garçon handed hefty fine

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AP

49ers wide receiver Pierre Garçon handed hefty fine

The NFL fined 49ers wide receiver Pierre Garçon $24,309 for unnecessary roughness in last week’s game against Washington.

Garçon, who was not penalized on the play, lowered his helmet and struck Washington safety Montae Nicholson at the end of an 8-yard pass reception in the second quarter.

In 2013, the NFL passed a rule that bans the ball carrier from initiating contact with the crown of his helmet in the open field.

Nicholson’s helmet flew off and he remained on the ground for a couple of minutes. He was evaluated for a possible concussion and shoulder injury. However, Nicholson was cleared and he returned to action.

After the play, Garçon and Washington safety D.J. Swearinger exchanged words, and Swearinger took a swipe at Garçon’s facemask. Swearinger was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct.

The NFL fined Swearinger $9,115 for unnecessary roughness.