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Report: 49ers to sign DT Earl Mitchell; waive S Antone Exum Jr.

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Welcome back, Earl. The 49ers have also added Jonathan Kongbo and Ray Smith

Seattle Seahawks v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

Kyle’s update 1:0: The team officially announced the signing of Mitchell, while waiving safety Antone Exum Jr. Waiving Exum Jr. is an indication that the 49ers are expecting Jaquiski Tartt to be healthy. Happy New Year!

Kyle’s update 1:25: Jonathan Kongbo has announced that the 49ers have signed him as well. The 23-year old defensive end spent time in the CFL in 2019. He’s undersized, as he’s listed at 256 pounds.

I’d expect Anthony Zettel and Kevin Givens to be released. We’ll know soon enough.

Per The Athletic’s Matt Barrows, the 49ers are signing nose tackle Earl Mitchell to help bolster the interior of their defensive line. Mitchell last played with the 49ers in 2018, where he played 363 snaps. PFF graded him out as a 63.7 in 2018. You’re not bringing back Mitchell to rush the passer; you’re bringing him back to ensure your run defense improves. That’s something Mitchell has done at a high level his entire career.

The decision to sign Mitchell likely comes to give Sheldon Day and DeForest Buckner a breather. Looking at the snap counts from Sunday’s game, Solomon Thomas played 30, and Anthony Zettel played 29. Dee Ford could replace Zettel’s snaps, while Mitchell can cut into both Day and Thomas’s snaps to help keep both fresh. Thomas hasn’t been effective all season. Mitchell has the experience and won’t make a mistake in a critical situation that a younger player may make.

It’s been a tough year for injuries along the defensive line. The 49ers have lost Ronald Blair, Damontre Moore, D.J. Jones, and Jullian Taylor for the season. That’s tons of experience. Signing the 32-year old Mitchell who is familiar with the 49ers probably says more about the younger guys like Kevin Givens than it does anything else.

The San Francisco 49ers today announced they have signed DL Ray Smith to the team’s practice squad. Smith (6-1, 302) originally signed with the Detroit Lions as a rookie free agent on May 10, 2019. He was waived by the Lions on August 31, signed to Detroit’s practice squad the following day and later released on October 1.

A 22-year-old native of San Diego, CA, Smith attended Boston College where he appeared in 40 games (34 starts) and registered 138 tackles, eight passes defensed, 1.5 sacks and one interception. As a senior in 2018, he started all 12 games and finished with 50 tackles, three passes defensed and one interception.