The 49ers agreed to terms Wednesday with short-yardage back Brandon Jacobs, formerly of the New York Giants, to compliment Frank Gore, according to an ESPN report.Jacobs (6-foot-4, 264 pounds) is a seven-year veteran who had 571 yards (3.8-yard average) and seven touchdowns last season as the Giants' No. 2 running back behind Ahmad Bradshaw in the regular season.Gore led the 49ers last season with 1,211 yards (4.3 average) and eight touchdowns. He has been the 49ers' featured running back since the 2006 season. The 49ers were looking this offseason to add to their stable of running backs through free agency or the draft.Kendall Hunter (5-7, 199) served as the 49ers' backup running back last season as a rookie. Hunter carried 112 times for 473 yards and two touchdowns. Anthony Dixon, the No. 3 back, carried just 29 times for 87 yards (3.0 average) and two touchdowns. The 49ers this offseason added veteran Rock Cartwright, but Cartwright is viewed more as a special-teams player.Jacobs' most productive seasons came in 2007 and 2008 when he had back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons with 5.0-yard averages. He averaged 5.6 yards while starting five games for the Giants in 2010, rushing for 823 yards and nine touchdowns. In seven NFL seasons, Jacobs has 56 rushing touchdowns.Jacobs had five carries for 13 yards in the Giants' 20-17 overtime victory over the 49ers in the NFC championship game. In the week leading up to that game, former 49ers receiver Jerry Rice, an analyst on ESPN, took aim at Jacobs." I feel like Brandon Jacobs is a little bit soft," Rice said. "He can't get away from a defender. This guy is 265 and it upsets me when I see him get tackled by a guy that's like 190 or 200 pounds."
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).
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.