Wide receiver Jerome Simpson, who had a team-high 25-yard catch Saturday for the 49ers, will be suspended for the first six games of the season for a previous violation of the NFL’s substance abuse program, the team announced Tuesday.
Simpson, 29, will not count against the 53-man roster limit when the season begins. He’ll be eligible to join the 49ers’ active roster Oct. 19, one day after a game against Baltimore.
Simpson missed two practices earlier this month to discuss the matter with league officials in New York.
“I’m just blessed to be with this organization and people who stand behind me and really believe in Jerome Simpson,” Simpson said after Tuesday’s practice. “I’m just really committed to proving the people who are behind me right, that I can turn it around and be a success story.”
Simpson has been arrested three times since January 2012. In July 2014, he was cited on misdemeanor charges of having marijuana and an open bottle of alcohol in his car while driving with a restricted license. He was suspended for the first three games of the 2014 season when news of his latest arrest surfaced. His team at the time, Minnesota, cut him at that point, and he did not playlast season.
The current suspension presumably is related to last year’s incident.
“The probability of a suspension was known when we signed Jerome,” general manager Trent Baalke said in a statement. “Since joining the 49ers, Jerome has proven to be a great teammate. Although he will not be able to participate in the first six weeks of the season, Jerome has done everything asked of him, both on and off the field. We are in full support of the NFL’s decision, and look forward to Jerome’s future contributions to our organization.”
The 49ers’ top two receivers are Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith. After that, a group including Simpson, Quinton Patton, Bruce Ellington and rookie DeAndrew White have been competing to be the No. 3 receiver.
So long, Cleveland – The 49ers traded tight end Asante Cleveland, who played at Christian Brothers High School and the University of Miami, to New England for offensive lineman Jordan Devey, who played right and left guard for the Super Bowl champions last year. Devey appeared in seven games, starting four.
The 49ers are seeking a good combination at right guard and center. Marcus Martin started Saturday’s game at right guard, but Brandon Thomas could see more snaps with the first-string offense after an impressive game against the Texans. Devey becomes another option.
Cleveland signed with the 49ers as an undrafted free agent last season. He spent the first half of 2014 on the practice squad before being added to the active roster when injuries to Vance McDonald and Derek Carrier created an opening. The Patriots were one of the teams interested in signing Cleveland after last year’s draft.
While other teams have seen injuries at tight end, the 49ers are stocked at the position. The 49ers have talked, for instance, with Washington, where tight ends Logan Paulsen and Niles Paul have sustained season-ending injuries.
San Francisco’s top tight end, Vernon Davis, was held out of Saturday’s game. McDonald and draft pick Blake Bell started with Garrett Celek – who caught the team’s only touchdown – also entering in the first quarter. Carrier, Xavier Grimble and seventh-round draft pick Busta Anderson round out the position.
Et cetera – Left defensive end Glenn Dorsey missed practice because of a minor muscle strain. Tony Jerod-Eddie filled in, and first-round pick Arik Armstead played with the second-team defense.
▪ Three 49ers returned to team drills: running back Kendall Hunter (ACL), outside linebacker Aaron Lynch (back) and safety Jimmie Ward (foot).
▪ More than 30 kids from Camp Taylor, quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s charity of choice, attended practice. The program supports children and families of children with heart disease. Kaepernick and players signed autographs afterward.