SANTA CLARA – Bruce Ellington’s hamstring injury has placed his availability for the start of the regular season in doubt.
The 49ers on Sunday acquired slot receiver and punt returner Jeremy Kerley in a trade with the Detroit Lions for offensive lineman Brandon Thomas to help compensate for Ellington's expected absence. The only other healthy slot receiver on the team is second-year player DeAndrew White.
Kerley, 27, immediately becomes the receiver with the second-most NFL production on his resume behind starter Torrey Smith. Kerley has 182 career receptions for 2,225 yards and nine touchdowns -- all with the New York Jets. In 74 career games, Kerley has averaged 9.3 yards on 134 punt returns.
Kerley signed a one-year contract with the Detroit Lions as a free agent, but was shipped to the 49ers for Thomas, who never appeared in a game with the organization.
“Jeremy gives us some depth as a slot receiver,” 49ers offensive coordinator Curtis Modkins said Monday during a pre-practice session with reporters.
“He’s played a lot of football in this league as a slot. He also gives us some versatility as a returner, so he’s added depth that we really need and I think he’ll be able to get caught up to speed fairly quickly.”
Kerley (5 foot 9, 188 pounds) made his first appearance on the 49ers’ practice field on Monday, wearing No. 14, which veteran receiver Jerome Simpson previously wore. The 49ers released Simpson on Saturday.
The 49ers’ roster stands at 77. All teams must be down to a maximum of 75 players before the deadline Tuesday at 1pm PT.