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Earl Mitchell cites Jeff Zgonina, DeMeco Ryans as big factors in 49ers signing

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The 49ers won out over Seattle and Denver in the competition for free agent defensive tackle Earl Mitchell. He talked about why he made the decision.

The San Francisco 49ers formally signed defensive tackle Earl Mitchell on Saturday, and he chatted with Bay Area media after it was official. The 49ers are coming off a 2-14 season, and Mitchell had contract offers from the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks, so naturally he got questions about what drew him to San Francisco.

Mitchell talked about the family environment the 49ers are building. He also talked about the respect he felt as he met with the team. However, he also cited the familiar faces in the organization.

Mitchell played for the Miami Dolphins the past three seasons, but prior to that he played for the Houston Texans from 2010 to 2013. He just missed being there with Kyle Shanahan, but he cited two 49ers assistants he knew from his time in Houston. During his first two years, Mitchell played with 49ers defensive quality control coach DeMeco Ryans, who was in Houston from 2006 to 2011. 49ers defensive line coach Jeff Zgonina played in Houston from 2007 to 2009, but his first coaching job was 2013. He served as the Texans’ assistant defensive line coach in 2013, which meant he worked with Mitchell in the latter’s final season in Houston.

The 49ers did not hire a lot of big name assistant coaches, but adding recent former players can be a draw for free agents. Mitchell talked about playing with Ryans and working with Zgonina, but he also cited their respective overall playing careers as things he is looking to emulate. I imagine the money played some part in it, but without knowing what Seattle or Denver offered, it is still good to see the 49ers win the recruiting battle.