49ers sign Falcons free agency target Earl Mitchell

Last season, he spent time on the Saints, Redskins and Chiefs practice squads but didn't play in a game.

Mitchell, who finished with 18 tackles, was inconsistent in stopping the run and the Dolphins were 30th against the run last season.

San Francisco had one of the NFL's worst up the middle defenses in 2016.

When healthy though, Mitchell is one of the better run-stuffers in the league. He starred at Denver South High School, and produced a huge season for the Cardinals a year ago with eight sacks and two forced fumbles.

The 6-foot-1, 289-pound Mitchell, 29, was a third-round pick of the Texans in 2010.

With the switch to a 4-3 under newly hired defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, Mitchell will be competing for the nose tackle spot on the defensive line.

So Mitchell's transition should be relatively seamless.

Blessed with long arms, Richardson's 34 5/8-inch arms were the fourth-longest of any of the 55 defensive linemen measured at the 2015 Scouting Combine.

Compared to previous year, the 49ers are not wasting any time getting talent into the building during free agency. The 49ers are contemplating moving Jimmie Ward from cornerback to safety, the position Pro Bowler Earl Thomas plays for the Seahawks.

Mitchell becomes the first major free agent signing of the Kyle Shanahan-John Lynch era for the San Francisco 49ers.

The Broncos are expected to add more defensive linemen through free agency and the draft in the coming months.

And that's exactly what the Niners need.

  • Julie Sanders