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49ers add Motley to join their decimated cornerback crew

NBC Sports

The 49ers added a new player to their decimated crew of cornerbacks.

The club on Tuesday claimed undrafted rookie cornerback Parnell Motley off waivers from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Motley is currently on a roster exemption. He will be available to report to the 49ers after completion of COVID-19 protocols and the passing of a physical.

Motley was waived on Monday, as the Buccaneers promoted linebacker Chapelle Russell from their practice squad.

The 49ers’ move to bring in Motley comes in the aftermath of the team’s disastrous 43-17 loss to the Miami Dolphins, during which Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 350 yards and three touchdowns.

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The 49ers elevated cornerback Brian Allen from the practice squad on Saturday. A day later, he was in the starting lineup for the first four defensive series before getting benched.

On Monday, Allen reverted back to the 49ers’ practice squad.

The 49ers did not have four of their top five cornerbacks available to start against the Dolphins.

Richard Sherman remains on injured reserve with a calf injury. He is not expected to be back for the 49ers this week. Emmanuel Moseley remains in the concussion protocol after missing two games, but the 49ers are optimistic he will be cleared to return as early as this week.


Ahkello Witherspoon missed two games with hamstring tightness and told the coaching staff he was available only for emergency duty. He entered in place of Allen in the second quarter.

Dontae Johnson replaced Moseley in Week 3 and started the following week. But he was unavailable against the Dolphins due to a groin injury.

After Week 1, the 49ers signed cornerback Ken Webster off the Dolphins’ practice squad. Allen got the starting assignment over Webster, though. Then, Webster experienced an issue with his hamstring, too.

Motley (6-foot, 180 pounds) made an impression with the Buccaneers during training camp as an undrafted rookie from Oklahoma. He intercepted Tom Brady on the first day of training camp. A week later, he picked off both Brady and Blaine Gabbert on one day.

“He’s working his tail off finding his spot on special teams,” Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians told the Tampa-area media on Aug. 24. “But he’s shown a lot of promise as a cornerback. He’s got really good hands; he’s not dropping any interceptions.”

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Motley appeared in two games for the Buccaneers, playing exclusively on special teams.

In four college seasons, Motley appeared in 53 games with 34 starts.

He was named second-team All-Big 12 as a senior after registering 41 tackles, 13 passes defensed, five forced fumbles, one interception and one fumble recovery.

Motley, however, was not invited to the NFL Scouting Combine and was not among the 255 players selected in the 2020 draft.