The 49ers’ running backs might have to wear name tags this week.
On Tuesday, the team signed its second free-agent runner in 24 hours, former New Orleans Saint Pierre Thomas. The 30-year-old Thomas hasn’t played since last season, when he carried 45 times for 222 yards and two touchdowns. He also had 45 catches for 378 yards and a touchdown in the Saints’ high-powered offense.
San Francisco fans likely remember Thomas was knocked out of a 2011 divisional playoff game on a hit by then-49ers safety Donte Whitner. Thomas will wear Kendall Hunter’s former number, 32.
Thomas joins Shaun Draughn, released two weeks ago by the Cleveland Browns, in the 49ers’ backfield. Both could see a lot of snaps Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons despite their recent arrivals. That’s because running backs Reggie Bush and Mike Davis had surgery Tuesday.
On Sunday against the St. Louis Rams, Bush tore a ligament in his left knee after slipping on a concrete surface at the Edward Jones Dome, and he was placed on season-ending injured reserve. Davis broke his hand Sunday, but it hasn’t been determined if the rookie will be able to return this season.
The 49ers’ starting running back, Carlos Hyde, has a stress fracture in his foot and might not be back until after the Nov. 15 bye.
The only other healthy runner is Kendall Gaskins, who was added to the 53-man roster Saturday when the 49ers waived Jarryd Hayne. The 49ers added the former Australian rugby star to their practice squad Monday.
The 49ers also worked out former Houston Texans running back Ben Tate on Tuesday. He probably won’t be added to the roster this week, but with so many injuries and question marks at the position, he could be an option later this season.
Cornerback in, Ramsey out – The 49ers signed former San Diego Chargers cornerback Chris Davis to their practice squad. Last season, Davis played in 12 games with one start. He was released before the start of this season.
Davis played at Auburn and is perhaps best known for his role in the 2013 Iron Bowl against Alabama. With one second left and the score 28-28, Alabama attempted a 57-yard field goal that was short. Davis caught the ball and returned it 109 yards for the winning touchdown.
Davis fills a spot vacated by defensive lineman Kaleb Ramsey, who was suspended without pay for the team’s next four games for violating the NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances.
Ramsey was the 49ers’ next-to-last pick in the 2014 draft. He spent last season on the physically-unable-to-perform list.