The San Francisco 49ers made a roster move yesterday afternoon, waiving fullback Jason Schepler and signing safety Raymond Ventrone to a two-year contract. The 49ers had signed Schepler on May 14 as an undrafted free agent. Ventrone spent the last four seasons with the Cleveland Browns. In 2012, Ventrone appeared in 12 games and had six total tackles.
I shot a quick email over to Chris Pokorny, who runs our Browns blog, Dawgs By Nature. He had a few quick thoughts on Ventrone:
He was known as our special teams ace in terms of a coverage guy, particularly on punts. You won't ever want to rely on him on defense; he is terrible as a safety. When the Browns first signed him several years ago, he was actually listed as a wide receiver/safety, but we never gave him any action at WR.
Chris went into a little more detail in a free agent review article about Ventrone. Simply put, this appears to be a straight forward special teams play. It is worth noting Ventrone has a connection to new 49ers consultant Eric Mangini and special teams coach Brad Seely.
Ventrone entered the league as an undrafted free agent with the New England Patriots in 2005. Between then and joining the Browns in 2009, he spent time on the Patriots and Jets practice squads. Mangini was around for his first stint with the Patriots and then during his time with the Jets. Ventrone followed that with his Browns years, part of which involved working with special teams coordinator Brad Seely.
The 49ers' special teams was dominant in all phases of the game in 2011. Unfortunately, they struggled mightily in 2012. Although Andy Lee remained a great punter, the coverage units struggled. The 49ers signed Dan Skuta and drafted Nick Moody to help with special teams. Ventrone is one more body to compete with those two, along with Michael Wilhoite. It should turn into a pretty intense competition.