SANTA CLARA -- Linebacker Mychal Kendricks started 91 games in his first eight NFL seasons.
He signed with the 49ers this week to serve in a backup role, as well as lending a helping hand on special teams.
“We don't have a ton of depth at linebacker,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “We've had some guys hurt. He's a guy who's hopped in. He's had a very good career. We've had to play against him.”
Kendricks, 31, played his first six years with the Philadelphia Eagles, where Shanahan, then Washington’s offensive coordinator, faced him twice a season for his first two years in the league.
More recently, Kendricks spent 2018 and ’19 with the Seattle Seahawks, starting 17 of the 18 games in which he appeared.
Since Dre Greenlaw left the lineup after Week 1 due to a core muscle injury, Fred Warner, Azeez Al-Shaair and Marcell Harris have served as the 49ers’ top three linebackers.
Greenlaw is expected from injured reserve in the coming weeks. Harris was fitted for a cast on Wednesday after sustaining a fractured thumb in the 49ers’ Week 5 game. Harris is likely to be questionable for Sunday's game against the Indianapolis Colts at Levi's Stadium.
Kendrick spent time with the 49ers during training camp, so he should be ready if needed.
Kendricks sustained a hyperextended big toe on his first play on special teams in the 49ers’ exhibition game at the Los Angeles Chargers on Aug. 22. The 49ers released Kendricks off injured reserve with a settlement, which allowed them to re-sign him during the season.
“I'm glad to have a veteran here like that,” Shanahan said. “That's some depth that we need, and it's always good to get a guy in here who’s done it before.”
Kendricks, who entered the league as a second-round draft pick from Cal, does not have much experience playing special teams. But 49ers special teams coordinator Richard Hightower said Kendricks has already expressed that he is up for anything.
“His attitude’s been great, he's willing to help,” Hightower said. “He wants to help. So he's a guy that can definitely help us depending on where his role falls defensively this week.
“He's ready to go. So I'm excited to have Mychal back here. He's a guy with some speed and some size and some physicality, and you always need those things, especially when you're going against returners and players that can really run.”