SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers have lost preseason star Marcus Rush to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Rush, an outside linebacker, led the team this summer with six sacks, endearing himself to fans in the process. They never saw Rush beyond the preseason, however, because he spent the year on the 49ers' practice squad.
Linebacker Brandon Chubb became the 49ers’ 10th member of the practice squad on Monday after Rush departed for Jacksonville. He passed a physical this morning, at which point he joined the Jaguars’ 53-man roster.
The 49ers have the worst defense in the league and are tied for 22nd in sacks with 27. Their outside linebackers, who in theory should supply the bulk of the team's pass rush, have just 8 1/2 sacks altogether. But coach Chip Kelly said recently that because there were no long-term injuries at the position, there had been no discussion about bringing Rush to the active roster this season.
"If we were to be out an outside linebacker, then that’s really what we would be looking at," Kelly said of Rush, who spent last year on San Francisco's practice squad as well.
Starting outside linebacker Aaron Lynch missed the first four games of the season due to a suspension, then sat out another five games due to a high-ankle sprain. On the other hand: The NFL’s 31 other teams had a chance to sign Rush before the 49ers signed him to their practice squad and did not. They also could have signed him to their active rosters during the first 15 weeks of the season.
The Jaguars have one fewer sack than the 49ers this season and on Monday fired head coach Gus Bradley. Rookie Yannick Ngakoue leads the team with six sacks.
Rush, meanwhile, also forced two fumbles and had an interception during the 49ers’ four preseason contests. Defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil said in September he was “surprised” the 49ers were able to land him on their practice squad.
“He’s a heck-of-a football player,” O’Neil said. “He’s done a hell-of-a job throughout the preseason and he’s a guy that I’ll be shocked if he’s on the practice squad all year.”