Three months ago, 49ers defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil said he’d be “shocked” if outside linebacker Marcus Rush, who led all NFL defenders in the preseason with six sacks, remained stuck on the team’s practice squad all season.
His instincts were right.
Rush was signed to an active roster Tuesday, not with the 49ers but with the Jacksonville Jaguars’ 53-man roster.
“He did a great job for our guys on the scout team, he obviously had a great preseason for us,” O’Neil said Tuesday. “But I’m happy for him. He’s got a chance to be on the 53-man (roster), get a couple of game checks and put some film out there.”
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The 49ers rank 32nd in yards allowed and points allowed this season and are 22nd with 27 sacks – 8 1/2 of them by the team’s outside linebackers. Asked if he would have liked to have had Rush bumped to San Francisco’s active roster this season, O’Neil said, “Those decisions are above my pay grade. … I’m not going to second-guess people in the building. I’m not going to go there.”
The comment appeared to be directed at general manager Trent Baalke and the team’s front office. Coach Chip Kelly has said previously that the 49ers didn’t consider promoting Rush because there were no long-term injuries at the position. Starter 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.
The NFL’s 31 other teams had a chance to sign Rush following the preseason, just before the 49ers signed him to their practice squad. They did not, and they didn’t do so 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 Jacksonville with six sacks.
Smelter activated – The 49ers, who may be down two starting wide receivers this week, promoted DeAndre Smelter from the practice squad.
Smelter was a fourth-round pick out of Georgia Tech in 2015. He was one of several players Baalke has drafted after they suffered an ACL injury in college. He sat out all of his rookie season and was in and out of practices this offseason while dealing with a hamstring injury.
One of the 49ers’ starters, Torrey Smith, is recovering from a concussion suffered Dec. 11. He did not practice Tuesday.
Another, Quinton Patton, has a foot injury that landed him on injured reserve Tuesday. The 49ers also signed receiver DiAndre Campbell, who spent the past two offseasons with the team, to the practice squad.
Ward to injured reserve – The 49ers placed cornerback Jimmie Ward on injured reserve after he suffered a shoulder injury Sunday in Atlanta. The team filled Ward’s roster spot by promoting rookie cornerback Prince Charles Iworah, a seventh-round draft pick, from the practice squad.
Ward is the 16th 49er to go on injured reserve this season. The team also signed cornerback Duke Thomas to the practice squad.
Et cetera – A number of 49ers didn’t practice Tuesday: Tackle Joe Staley, nose tackle Glenn Dorsey, center Marcus Martin, defensive lineman DeForest Buckner, safety Dontae Johnson and linebacker Ahmad Brooks. Staley (hamstring) warmed up with his teammates before retiring to a side field to work with the team’s training staff. Brooks, who played 62 of 68 snaps Sunday, recently has been getting Tuesdays off.
▪ Linebacker Gerald Hodges, who was benched Sunday following a violation of team rules in Atlanta, practiced Tuesday. Asked if Hodges would play Saturday, O’Neil said, “We’ll see how the week goes.”
▪ Rams quarterback Jared Goff, the first pick in April’s draft, remains in the team’s post-concussion program.