Damontre Moore

49ers free agents: Six under-the-radar players ready for open market

49ers free agents: Six under-the-radar players ready for open market

Editor's note: This is the final installment of a series in which we examined the 49ers’ scheduled free agents. We conclude with a look at the team’s under-the-radar free agents and those who have already retired.

Jason Verrett, CB

The 49ers took a calculated gamble last offseason that Verrett could remain healthy. He did not.

Verrett entered the Week 3 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers and was beaten badly for a TD. He was removed from the game and went on season-ending injured reserve due to knee issues.

The 49ers should have a handle on the extent of his physical issues after he was in the building for the season. But it seems reasonable that the 49ers gave it a shot for one season and do not have to give it another try.

Shon Coleman, OT

The 49ers sent a seventh-round draft pick to the Cleveland Browns at the start of the 2018 regular season to acquire Coleman. He was inactive for his entire first season with the 49ers.

A year ago, he was projected to be the team’s swing tackle. But he sustained a fractured right fibula and dislocated ankle in the team’s first preseason game. Justin Skule and Daniel Brunskill took over as the team’s backup tackles behind Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey.

If the 49ers were impressed by what the saw from Coleman on the practice field and meetings, they could bring him back on a one-year deal.

Damontre Moore, DE

Moore had a really good training camp and was the last cut before the start of the regular season. The team struggled with that decision. Somewhat surprisingly, no other NFL team picked up Moore.

He was still available when Ronald Blair sustained with a season-ending ACL tear. (Blair is scheduled for free agency, too.) Moore immediately stepped into a spot in the 49ers’ D-line rotation. But his season came to a quick end with a fractured forearm.

Jordan Matthews, WR

The 49ers made a mini-splash by signing Matthews last offseason. He was cut before the start of the regular season, then went to his former team, the Philadelphia Eagles, for a couple of games before he was let go. 

San Francisco had Matthews for a couple of stints during the season. He appeared in one game and did not catch a pass. The 49ers can go in another direction this offseason.

Dontae Johnson, CB

Johnson appeared in seven games last season while bouncing on and off the roster. Johnson is not a bad insurance policy to have in the back pocket to step onto the field in a pinch.

There is no urgency to re-sign him, but he definitely is an option to be with the club in the offseason for competition and insurance.

Anthony Zettel, DE

Backups Blair and Moore were injured, and Jeremiah Valoaga did not give the 49ers what they wanted. So the 49ers signed Zettel in late-December. Defensive line coach Kris Kocurek had experience with Zettel from their days together with the Detroit Lions.

Zettel ultimately played 15 snaps in Super Bowl LIV, but the 49ers can certain look for other backup options with more upside.

Garrett Celek, TE

Celek Time has come to an end. The popular backup tight end announced his retirement this offseason after experiencing back issues in recent seasons.

He played eight seasons with the club after signing as an undrafted rookie in 2012 from Michigan State. Celek concluded his career with 82 receptions for 1,104 yards and 12 touchdowns. George Kittle, Ross Dwelley and Levine Toilolo, who is scheduled for free agency, were on the 49ers' roster as tight ends last season.

[RELATED: 49ers should target these five offensive players]

Earl Mitchell, NT

Mitchell came out of retirement to play for the 49ers down the stretch after D.J. Jones was placed on injured reserve. Mitchell had a limited role as a rotational player in the playoffs.

After playing 19 snaps in the Super Bowl behind starter Sheldon Day, Mitchell said he decided to step away from the game permanently. Mitchell, 32, played nine NFL seasons.

49ers' Damontre Moore goes on injured reserve with broken forearm

49ers' Damontre Moore goes on injured reserve with broken forearm

Veteran defensive lineman Damontre Moore sustained a fractured forearm in the 49ers’ 37-8 victory over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night.

Moore, 27, an eight-year NFL veteran, will go on season-ending injured reserve, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said Monday.

The 49ers will likely promote defensive lineman Jeremiah Valoaga from the practice squad to take Moore’s spot on the team's 53-man roster.

The 49ers signed Moore on Nov. 13 to fill the roster spot that opened when defensive end Ronald Blair sustained a season-ending torn ACL. Moore played well in his two games with the 49ers, including forcing a fumble to clinch the 49ers’ victory over the Arizona Cardinals in Week 11.

“I know he’s really down because he wanted to be a part of this for the rest of the year,” Shanahan said. “He will be. Going on IR doesn’t mean he disappears, but he won’t be able to go out there any more.

“It was really cool how he played these two weeks. It was exactly like the preseason. He put everything on the line and did everything he could to earn a job. And what he’s done in these two weeks here, just coming right off the street and playing at a high level, getting a huge turnover for us the first week. He did some real good things last week.”

Moore played 34 of the 49ers’ 80 defensive snaps in the win over the Packers. He had three tackles and a quarterback hit on Aaron Rodgers before discovering after the game that he sustained a season-ending injury.

“I can’t tell you how impressed we were,” Shanahan said. “We didn’t know he had a broken forearm until after my press conference yesterday. The guy didn’t tell anybody because he didn’t know it was broken.”

[RELATED: 49ers snap count: Ahkello Witherspoon eased back into starting role]

Valoaga, 25, appeared in nine games with the Detroit Lions last season. Valoaga (6-foot-6, 275 pounds) registered five tackles as an undrafted rookie from UNLV.

The 49ers are also giving further evaluations to defensive tackle Jullian Taylor, who had a jaw injury on Sunday night. Shanahan said the 49ers believe Taylor sustained a jaw bruise. He played 25 of the 49ers’ 80 snaps on Sunday night against the Packers. He was credited with two tackles in the game.

Damontre Moore emotional about rejoining 49ers, makes most of chance

Damontre Moore emotional about rejoining 49ers, makes most of chance

SANTA CLARA – Damontre Moore pressed a football to the top of his head as he bent at his waist, leaning against the bench on the 49ers sideline. He said a prayer of gratitude in the closing seconds of his return to the NFL, which he capped with a key forced fumble.

The 49ers were also thankful Moore was still there for them after 10 weeks of the NFL regular season.

“I was emotional,” Moore said after coming up with a big play to help preserve the 49ers’ victory Sunday over the Arizona Cardinals at Levi’s Stadium. “The one thing I realized on my journey, is I got to give thanks to God.

“I was so emotional because me and coach Kris Kocurek talked probably once a week or once every other week when I was gone. He believed in me. I just have to keep thanking him for this opportunity. I love that guy. I love him. I love my brothers. I love my teammates.”

A week earlier, Moore was spending his time, as he did every Sunday, with his 6-month-old son, Sekani Deruis, and wife Tiara at their home in Mansfield, Texas, a suburb of Dallas. He watched football, kept tabs on all his friends with the 49ers, and wondered if he would get another chance to play in the NFL.

On Tuesday morning, his phone finally rang.

He was on a flight to the Bay Area later that day to work out for the 49ers, who lost defensive end Ronald Blair to a season-ending knee injury in the team’s loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Monday night.

“The 49ers called and, ‘Hey, can you make this flight in two hours? You’re going to work out today, and we’ll see where it goes from there.’ It was a quick turn-around,” Moore said. “The next thing you know, on Wednesday, I’m in practice with full pads.

“This whole week has been a whirlwind. That’s why I’m so emotional. And Sunday, I’m contributing to a win. It doesn’t get any better than that. We got a win, and I actually made a couple of plays.”

Moore played 23 of the 49ers’ 69 defensive snaps, and none was bigger than his hustle play with 25 seconds remaining and the 49ers clinging to a 30-26 lead over Arizona.

Moore was rushing the passer from the left side of the defense. After Kyler Murray’s short pass completion to rookie receiver KeeSean Johnson, Moore turned and ran to the ball. Cornerback Emmanuel Moseley had Johnson wrapped up, and Moore delivered a hit to knock the ball loose. Teammate Jaquiski Tartt recovered the fumble to, in effect, clinch the victory.

“Honestly, I feel like I had to make that play because just as good of a game it was, I also had a lot of mistakes,” Moore said. “I feel like I owed it to this team. They took a risk in bringing me in, and trusting me.”

Moore, 27, broke into the NFL in 2013 as a third-round draft pick of the New York Giants. He also played for Miami, Seattle, Dallas and the Raiders in his career. After suiting up for the San Diego Fleet of the Alliance of American Football this spring, Moore signed with the 49ers to join their 90-man offseason roster.

[RELATED: Unlikely heroes show up in win over Cardinals]

Moore made a strong bid to win a roster spot at the end of training camp. And the 49ers were surprised Moore did not end up on another team before they dialed his number following Blair’s injury.

“He was the 54th guy on our roster after camp, so he earned it,” 49ers rookie defensive end Nick Bosa said. “He deserved to be here, but it’s a numbers game. And he wasn’t here for half the year, so he’s just trying to make up for the time off.”

The 49ers might need more from him after 49ers defensive end Dee Ford exited Sunday’s game with a right hamstring injury. Ford could miss some time, which would provide Moore with additional opportunities. He said he stepped right back into the 49ers’ locker room and felt as if he had never left.

“With coach Kocurek and all the guys embracing me, you would’ve thought I never got cut the way everybody treated me,” Moore said. “It’s really emotional.”