The 49ers on Monday placed cornerback Chris Davis on injured reserve with a knee injury and signed one of Chip Kelly’s cornerbacks from last year’s Philadelphia Eagles squad to replace him.
JaCorey Shepherd, 23, was a sixth-round pick by the Eagles last year. He missed his rookie season because he tore an ACL in August, 2015. At the time Shepherd was in line to be the Eagles’ nickel cornerback, a position Davis also has played this year. He was recently released from Philadelphia’s practice squad.
Davis, who is best known as the hero of Auburn’s 2013 Iron Bowl win over Alabama, also served as the 49ers’ kick returner, averaging 21.5 yards on six kickoff returns. He lost a fumble in last Thursday’s loss to Arizona and also suffered his injury on a return. Running back Mike Davis handled kickoffs after Chris Davis left the game.
Shepherd, meanwhile, returned kicks at the University of Kansas and ranks fourth all-time for the Jayhawks with 1,350 kickoff return yards.
With Jimmie Ward dealing with a quadriceps injury, the 49ers’ starting cornerbacks have been Tramaine Brock and Rashard Robinson. Keith Reaser has played nickel cornerback in the past two games.
The other cornerbacks on the team are Dontae Johnson and Marcus Cromartie, who also plays safety. Third-round pick Will Redmond (knee) is a candidate to come off of injured reserve at some point this season.
The 49ers’ pass defense ranks 10th in the NFL in allowing 223 yards per game. That ranking, however, may be due to the ease in which opponents have run the ball. San Francisco’s run defense ranks 31st. The 49ers have allowed 10 passing touchdowns, which ranks 26th overall.