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News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

September 13, 2011
49ers find tight end, sign Peelle to a one-year deal

The 49ers' long search for a third tight end has ended with one-time Falcon Justin Peelle. The team signed Peelle (6-4, 251) to a one-year deal today and released sixth-round pick Colin Jones. The team has an open spot on its practice squad, and Jones is eligible for it.


Peelle, who is from Fresno and played at Oregon, originally was drafted by the Chargers in the fourth round in 2002. He's also played for the Dolphins and Falcons, who acquired him in 2008, the same season Michael Turner rushed for 1,699 yards.

The 49ers have been searching for a third tight end since second-year player Nate Byham went down with an ACL tear early in training camp. The team had been using a tackle - either Adam Snyder or Alex Boone - as an extra blocker.

But their presence on the line has telegraphed the team's intent. Peelle gives the offense more versatility. He's scored 12 touchdowns over his career and last year had 10 catches for 96 yards. Atlanta waived Peelle injured earlier this year after he went down with a knee injury in the first preseason game. The 49ers recently gave Peelle a workout and he ostensibly also passed a physical.

As a testament to how young the 49ers are this season, the 32-year-old Peelle becomes their fifth oldest player behind kicker David Akers (36), Brian Jennings (35), fullback Moran Norris (33) and center Jonathan Goodwin (32), who is older than Peelle by four months.

Jones, meanwhile, was used solely on special teams during the preseason and in Week 1. The team had two sixth-round picks - receiver Ronald Johnson was the other - who both have been released. Johnson is now on the Eagles practice squad.

Peelle will wear No. 81. Cue the ominous music ...

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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