Well, that didn't take long. Veteran cornerback Dre' Bly must have aced his physical and his interview with Mike Singletary today because the 49ers have signed him to a one-year contract. Both Bly, 31, (he turns 32 on Monday) and Brian Kelly, 33, were brought in today after it was learned that starting cornerback Walt Harris tore the ACL in his right knee in practice Tuesday. Bly, who has played for the Rams, Lions and Broncos, is scheduled to speak on a conference call at 5 p.m.. Check back to this post if you're interested in what he had to say ...
In a release, GM Scot McCloughan said it was important to get Bly signed so he can learn the 49ers' system as quickly as possible. McCloughan also noted Bly's durability. Bly has not missed a start in the last three seasons.
"We lost a Pro Bowl caliber player in Walt Harris this week, and we were able to fill that void today with another Pro Bowler in DrÃ© Bly," McCloughan said. "We added a player with a passion for the game, tremendous productivity and proven durability who knows what it takes to compete at a high level in the NFL. It was important to get DrÃ© in here quickly so that he can get acquainted with our system, our coaches and his new teammates."
Here's how Scouts, Inc. assesses Bly:
The 10-year veteran still has some years left in his body. He is an excellent athlete with good foot quickness, agility and excellent speed. He is fluid and smooth in his hip turn and can mirror most receivers all over the field. He has good route awareness when in off coverage, but has a tendency to gamble and jump on routes at the wrong time, which can cost him.
He is not a big cornerback and struggles against some of the larger receivers in the league. The Broncos generally try to match him up with the inside, smaller receivers when in the red zone. He has awareness and good ball skills when in position to make a play on the ball. He is not very physical and not much of a force in run support. He lets himself get blocked too easily. He would probably be a better fit as a nickel back, if the Broncos were able to find a top level cornerback in the near future, but can still play effectively even as a starter.
Bly was at the airport when he got on a conference call with reporters a moment ago (5:15 p.m.). He said his first order of business was picking up the playbook and that he had a copy of it in his carry-on luggage. Bly said he'd be back the next time the 49ers assemble for practices in early June.
Bly said one of the first people he called when he learned of the 49ers' interest was Isaac Bruce, a former teammate with the Rams. "He's a guy that sort of raised me when I was with St. Louis." Bly said Bruce had good things to say about the 49ers and about San Francisco.
As for replacing Harris as the starter at cornerback, Bly said it was easy to assume, given his history in the league, that he would step into the starting role. "That's not the case," Bly said. "I'm going to come in and compete." ... "What coach Singletary told me was 'You're going to have a chance to compete. All 53 are going to compete.'" Bly admitted he didn't know much about the two players he will have to compete with on the 49ers, Tarell Brown and Shawntae Spencer.
Bly said that when cornerbacks start to fade in this league it's either because they're injured or overweight. He insisted he's neither. In fact, Bly said he weighed less now than he did as a rookie. Back then, he went about 192 pounds. Today he's about 188 pounds.
Asked how, at that weight, he would handle the Anquan Boldins and Larry Fitgeralds of the division, Bly said that he's been matched up against top tier receivers his entire career. "I thrive during competition and situations like that," he said.
Bly said one of his best assets is his ball skills. His 40 interceptions since entering the NFL as a second-round draft pick in 1999 are the fourth-highest total among all NFL players, while his 18 forced fumbles are the most among cornerbacks during that span.
-- Matt Barrows