More evidence the 49ers weren't happy with their coverage units in 2012: The team today signed Ray Ventrone, a special teams standout most recently in Cleveland, to a one-year deal.
Ventrone got his NFL start with the Patriots in 2005 and played the last four seasons in Cleveland, two of them with current 49ers special teams coordinator Brad Seely. He appeared in 12 games last season and recorded seven special teams tackles. Ventrone also is familiar to newly hired 49ers consultant Eric Mangini, who has been a head coach with the Jets and Browns.
The 49ers ranked second to last in defending kickoff returns last year, and they allowed a Super Bowl-record 108-yard touchdown to open the second half against the Ravens in February. Two of the players the team relied on to bolster that unit, linebackers Tavares Gooden and Larry Grant, were not re-signed in free agency.
Meanwhile, the 49ers added two other coverage specialists, linebacker Dan Skuta and receiver Marlon Moore, in free agency. They used a sixth-round draft pick on Nick Moody, whose initial contribution, should he make the squad, likely would be on special teams.
In addition, linebacker Michael Wilhoite, who was activated on Nov. 30 last season and who turned out to be one of the team's better coverage players, returns this year. In just five games, Wilhoite had seven tackles, which ranked seventh on the team.
To make room for Ventrone, the 49ers waived fullback Jason Schepler.
-- Matt Barrows