Bills' Ryan has the book on new 49ers starters Kerley, Bellore

Bills' Ryan has the book on new 49ers starters Kerley, Bellore

SANTA CLARA – Buffalo Bills coach Rex Ryan has long histories with two players who are new to the 49ers’ starting lineup.

Slot receiver Jeremy Kerley and linebacker Nick Bellore spent four seasons apiece on Ryan’s teams with the New York Jets. Kerley is the 49ers’ leading receiver and punt returner, while Bellore is in line to make the second start of his six-year NFL career on Sunday when the 49ers travel to face the Bills.

Kerley has been a find for the 49ers, who added him late in the exhibition season in a trade with the Detroit Lions for guard Brandon Thomas. The 49ers acquired Kerley to fill the void left with Bruce Ellington's season-ending hamstring injury.

“Great kid, man. He’s fantastic,” Ryan said of Kerley on a conference call Wednesday with Bay Area reporters. “I loved his work ethic. He’s a guy, he just loves to play football. (He) doesn’t like being a punt returner too much, but he likes everything else.”

Ryan said he pursued Kerley as a free agent with the Bills, but he went to Detroit, at least in part due to his reluctance to return punts.

“Trust me, that was one of the reasons he never came here because I was going to say, ‘You have to be our primary punt returner.’ I think he had enough of that,” Ryan said.

Kerley is the only player to return a punt for the 49ers through five games. He has averaged 8.1 yards on seven punts while making 14 fair catches.

Bellore spent his time on Ryan’s team as a special-teams player and backup linebacker. Ryan cited Bellore’s Wonderlic test score of 36 as a reason he felt comfortable with him as a backup.

“If somebody went down, he could step right in,” Ryan said. ‘He could call the defenses. He could run the defense and he’s a good player. He’s been a tremendous special teams player for a long time, but he’s also a good defensive player.

“Back with the Jets, he wasn’t going to play over Bart Scott or David Harris, I can assure you. But it was comforting having that guy who could back up both of those spots and I was confident he could play well but not at that level.”

Bellore made his first NFL start last week. He took over for middle linebacker NaVorro Bowman, who is out for the season with a torn Achilles.

Ryan spoke about the Bills outside linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, who started just 16 games in nine previous NFL seasons. As the full-time starter, Alexander leads the league with seven sacks. He never had more than 2.5 sacks in any previous season.

When asked if Bellore has the ability to blossom as a starter, like Alexander, Ryan was not ready to label him as a potential Pro Bowl player.

“Nick Bellore is a good football player,” Ryan said. “There’s no question, but nobody’s going to think he’s NaVorro Bowman, I can promise you that.”

49ers sign former first-round pick guard


49ers sign former first-round pick guard

The 49ers added some talent in the trenches on Tuesday.

Guard Jonathan Cooper inked a one-year deal, the team announced.

Cooper was originally drafted No. 7 overall by the Cardinals in 2013. After two seasons in Arizona, he spent time with the Patriots, Browns and Cowboys.

Last season, he appeared in 13 games for Dallas.

“Having started 27 games in four NFL seasons, Jonathan brings great experience to the interior of our offensive line. We look forward to him competing for a starting job at guard, while also bringing a veteran presence to our locker room. Jonathan is a welcome addition to our team,” GM John Lynch said in a statement.

Richard Sherman envisions making contributions to 49ers on and off the field

Richard Sherman envisions making contributions to 49ers on and off the field

SANTA CLARA – Veteran cornerback Richard Sherman believes he has a lot of good football ahead of him.

But he knows he is not coming to the 49ers after seven seasons with the rival Seattle Seahawks just for how he fits into defensive coordinator Robert Saleh’s scheme. The 49ers signed Sherman to a three-year contract on March 10 -- one day after the Seahawks released him.

Sherman, who turns 30 on March 30, views his job description as being a major influence and contributor to the 49ers on and off the field.

“I think it’s probably 50-50,” Sherman said Tuesday in an interview with NBC Sports Bay Area. “Obviously, I’m going to be asked to play at a high level, and that’s what I expect from myself and that’s what I expect to bring to this team. But outside of that, I think I bring an aspect of culture and a winning mentality.”

Sherman is a four-time Pro Bowl performer and three-time first-team All-Pro. He said the commitment to winning is all-consuming. It is a mindset he helps to share with his new teammates.

“It’s about waking up and doing things that will contribute to winning later, whether it’s your diet, your sleep habits, how you treat your teammates, how you converse,” Sherman said. “Do you go out tonight or do you stay in and get some extra studying? What are you doing to help us win the game on Sunday? Just that mentality will help a lot of these people.”

There might be no young player on the 49ers in need of a good role model more than Reuben Foster, who is set to enter his second NFL season. Foster was arrested this offseason for possession of marijuana in Alabama. A month later, he was arrested in Los Gatos for alleged domestic violence, threats and possession of an assault weapon.

On Tuesday, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office said no decision has yet been reached whether to pursue criminal charges against Foster.

Sherman said he has not spoken to Foster but he will be willing to be a mentor to Foster and provide him with support. Sherman said he has heard a lot of great things about Foster.

“If I can help him, I’ll do my best,” Sherman said. “I look forward to meeting him and being a teammate of his, and helping him in any way I can. To think I can change everything he does, I’d be foolish to say I could. But am I going to try my best to help him and put him in positions to be more successful in the future? Yes, I am.”