Day-after determinations

The 49ers decided to add Friday before they subtract Saturday morning, signing 11th-year veteran Travis Hall to bolster the depth on their defensive line. As Hall joins the team, several others soon will be leaving. Mike Nolan will cut down his roster to the NFL-mandated 53-player limit Saturday, and here's a look at some of the things running through Nolan's mind late Friday as he talked about Thursday's preseason finale in San Diego and the tough decisions that lie ahead.

The first order of business was the signing of Hall, who has recorded 430 tackles in 134 career games and is fourth in Atlanta Falcons history with 41.5 sacks. Hall was released in February after spending his first 10 NFL seasons with the Falcons.

The Niners have been in discussion with Hall for months, Nolan said, but the veteran – who was looking into opportunities to remain on the East Coast – finally decided that he "felt like the 49ers were the team he wanted to come to," Nolan said.

Hall immediately provides a proven veteran who can play at virtually any position across the defensive front of San Francisco's new 3-4 scheme. At 6-foot-5 and 295 pounds, he has the perfect size to immediately fit into a playing rotation at end with starters Bryant Young and Marques Douglas.

"I'm confident he'll add something to the group," Nolan said. "He'll fit in as a part-time player, I guess you could say, and his experience gives us some depth we're looking for. He understands the situation here and what we're trying to accomplish."

Nolan said he doesn't view Hall as a roster replacement for Chris Cooper, who will miss the season after a recent shoulder injury.

"Chris was still trying to make this team," Nolan said. "I think Travis Hall is a little bit more of a proven player. I would hope that he would be an upgrade for us at this time, because he's an experienced NFL player."

To make room for Hall on the roster, the 49ers released rookie defensive lineman Scott Scharff, who was going to be one of the first players to go during Saturday's round of cuts anyway.

The Niners still have 68 players on their roster and are required to make 15 roster moves by the NFL deadline of 1 p.m. Sunday.

"There's not many easy ones," Nolan said.

Here's a rundown on other topics addressed by Nolan in the aftermath of Thursday's 28-24 exhibition loss in San Diego that left the 49ers with a 2-2 preseason record:

Newberry fine: Nolan said center Jeremy Newberry, playing on his surgically-repaired knee for the first time since last September, played well and was not experiencing any day-after problems with the knee or his leg. "He was good today," Nolan said. "He did a good job in the game as well. He has an attitude element that is important to an offensive line."

Starting line appears set: With Newberry back in the fold, Nolan said the Niners will likely start an offensive line of left tackle Jonas Jennings, left guard Justin Smiley, center Newberry, right guard Adam Snyder and right tackle Kwame Harris in the Sept. 11 season opener against St. Louis. The immediate plan is to keep Eric Heitmann – who started all summer in Newberry's place before missing Thursday's game with his own knee problem – working at center. Heitmann and rookie David Baas would be the top backups, making Snyder the only rookie on the team to start on opening day.

Peterson primed: The 49ers brought two-time Pro Bowl linebacker Julian Peterson along slowly this summer, but Nolan saw signs Thursday that the sixth-year pro is getting closer to top caliber in his return from a torn Achilles tendon. "I don't believe he's where he will be as we go forward, but he did make some obvious strides as far as turning it loose," Nolan said.

D-line update: Nolan said the Niners plan to keep 6 or 7 defensive linemen on their final roster. A player such as Corey Smith – who has been impressive this preseason after being switched from end to outside linebacker last month – could also be a swing lineman if he were to make the roster at linebacker, Nolan said.

Preseason was progress: After a solid effort Thursday, Nolan is pleased where his team is after it's 2-2 finish in the preseason. "I feel good about where we're at with the progress we've made and where we're headed," Nolan said. "I want us to continue to get better each week, but we did accomplish a lot in the preseason. I'm very pleased with the progress we made. I'm certainly not going into the season saying we're there yet, but I certainly still think we can win."

Rattay bonding with receivers: Nolan sees starting quarterback Tim Rattay developing a passing harmony with first-year starting flanker Arnaz Battle that Rattay already has with second-year starting split end Brandon Lloyd. In just 12 plays of action for both players Thursday, Rattay hooked up with Battle three times for 64 yards. "If you want to say good chemistry, I thought that worked well," Nolan said.

Special teams is big: Nolan reiterated that the final roster berths to be decided will come down to who can help the team most on special teams. The Niners may keep players lower on the depth chart than second-teamers if it's determined those players can help the team more on special teams than the backups at particular positions.

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