49ers gear up for stretch with 5 roster moves

The 49ers made several roster moves Monday as they gear up for the stretch run, including placing center Eric Heitmann and linebacker Jay Foreman on injured reserve.

To replace those two veterans on the 53-man roster, the 49ers signed fourth-year safety Deke Cooper and first-year guard Nick Steitz.

Cooper, who played one season with Carolina and the past three with Jacksonville, has not played previously this season. Steitz was signed by the 49ers off the practice squad of the Washington Redskins.

The 49ers also added three players to their practice squad. San Francisco had three openings on that unit after the promotions of cornerback B.J. Tucker and linebacker Renauld Williams to the 53-man roster last week and Jacksonville's signing of linebacker Jeremy Mincey off the 49ers' practice squad. The 49ers were high on Mincey and were hoping to develop him for the future, but they could not hide him any longer on their developmental unit.

The 49ers signed linebacker Jared Newberry, cornerback Harrison Smith and cornerback Jerron Wishom to fill the three practice-squad openings.

After starting 51 consecutive games over the past four seasons at left guard, right guard and center, Heitmann, one of San Francisco's most durable offensive linemen, suffered a broken tibia during the first quarter of last week's 24-14 victory over Seattle. He underwent surgery following the game at a Seattle hospital and is expected to be able to return for spring workouts.

Foreman, who joined the team two weeks ago, suffered an injury to a medial collateral ligament in his knee against the Seahawks.

Heitmann and Foreman are the sixth and seventh players to go on San Francisco's injured reserve list this year.

Cooper (6-foot-2, 210 pounds) has 22 starts in 56 career games and was a key member of the Jacksonville secondary the past three seasons. Cooper started 12 of 16 games for the Jaguars last year and finished with a career-high 80 tackles, one interception and four passes defensed.

The 49ers opted to sign Steitz away from the Redksins' developmental squad rather than bringing up tackle Tavares Washington from their own practice squad because of Steitz's ability to play the interior line positions. Steitz (6-foot, 300 pounds) was originally signed by New Orleans as a rookie free agent out of Oregon in 2005. He was waived prior to the start of the regular season and then went to training camp with New England this past summer.

Newberry (6-foot-1, 238 pounds) was originally drafted by Washington in the sixth round of the 2005 draft out of Stanford. He was waived by the Redskins prior to the start of the regular season and spent his first NFL season on the practice squads of New England and Tennessee. He was re-signed by Tennessee after the season but was waived again by the Titans at the end of training camp this year.

Smith (6-foot-2, 199 pounds) was originally signed by Detroit as a rookie free agent out of California earlier this spring. He was waived by the Lions prior to the start of the regular season.

Wishom (6-foot, 197 pounds) was originally signed by Houston as a rookie free agent out of Louisiana Tech in 2005. He was waived the Texans prior to the start of the regular season and was signed to Green Bay's practice squad. Wishom later joined the Packers' 53-man roster and saw action in five games. He went to training camp with Green Bay this past summer but was waived prior to the start of the regular season.


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