The 49ers had an open roster spot and did not have to make a corresponding move. Cannon is the second back the team has acquired this week, having signed running back Kerryon Johnson to their practice squad on Tuesday.
The 49ers lost their starting back, Raheem Mostert, to a season-ending injury in their Week 1 victory over the Lions. With backup running back Jeff Wilson Jr. already out for the early portion of the season with a knee injury, the Niners have scoured other rosters to solidify their backfield depth.
A sixth-round pick out of Virginia Tech in 2018 by the Jets, Cannon has appeared in 35 career games between the Jets, Panthers, and Ravens, with more than 60% of his career snaps coming on special teams.
Over parts of four NFL seasons, Cannon has amassed 151 rushing yards on 50 carries, 160 receiving yards on 20 receptions, 19 tackles, and 414 yards on 16 kickoff returns (25.9 yards per return).
Cannon’s calling card is his versatility. In fact, the Panthers tried to convert him to wide receiver this preseason before he was waived and acquired by the Ravens.
His abilities as a pass-catcher, running back, and special teamer were likely a huge part of his appeal to the 49ers, who seem confident that running backs Elijah Mitchell, JaMycal Hasty, and Trey Sermon can handle the bulk of duties in Mostert and Wilson’s absence.
However, while Cannon could give head coach Kyle Shanahan another swiss-army knife to play with on offense, the Ravens have their own injury pile up at running back.
Baltimore’s two primary backs (J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards) have already torn their ACLs and will not play this season. The fact that they were willing to cut Cannon lose suggests that they were skeptical he could be a significant contributor on offense.