The San Francisco 49ers announced they have promoted defensive tackle Mike Purcell from the practice squad. He will take Ray McDonald's spot, following the latter's release on Tuesday.
Purcell will focus on the nose tackle role, according to head coach Jim Harbaugh. The 49ers defensive line depth chart now includes a starting lineup of Justin Smith and Tony Jerod-Eddie at the defensive end positions, and Quinton Dial at nose tackle. Purcell will back up Dial, while Tank Carradine will back up Smith and TJE.
The team did not promote an end over Purcell because Dial can handle that work. According to Vic Fangio, Dial focused on 3-4 end work during training camp. As the 49ers started losing nose tackles, Dial moved into that role. It is possible we could even see Purcell get some nose tackle work to spell Dial if team wants to get Dial in the mix at the end positions. Given that the 49ers are out of the playoff race, Saturday's game opens the door to try out some different things. Coaches and players have talked about wanting to win the game, but this provides a different dynamic for the coaches and front office to see what they have.