49ers outbid Broncos for defensive lineman Earl Mitchell

The 49ers have holes at nearly every position, but their defense last season was historically bad and allowed a league-worst 406.4 yards and 30 points per game.

Former Miami Dolphins defensive lineman Earl Mitchell signed a four-year deal to play in the Bay Area, and gets a significant pay increase.

Mike Garafolo first reported the defensive tackle signing with the Niners.

Mitchell also visited the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos before deciding to join the 49ers.

Mitchell spent the majority of the season on injured reserve with a calf injury, limiting him to nine games and only five starts.

When healthy though, Mitchell is one of the better run-stuffers in the league.




In 100 career games, Mitchell has 5 1/2 sacks and 19 tackles for loss.

The 49ers need help on the interior of the defensive line as they are expected to switch from a three-man front to a four-man front under new coordinator Robert Saleh.

So Mitchell's transition should be relatively seamless.

While the jury remains out on moves like these, it is refreshing to see a proactive presence, unearthing every rock available to improve what is one of the NFL's worst rosters.

But it also likely crosses off the possible return of nose tackle Ian Williams, who was released by San Francisco in an injury settlement prior to 2016. Although the 49ers could stand an upgrade at the position.

Nevertheless, San Francisco bringing in Mitchell even before free agency starts is a sign Lynch is being far more proactive than his predecessor, Trent Baalke, had been in previous years. Through free agency (which begins on March 9) and the National Football League draft (which begins April 27), the Broncos are expected to add at least one more defensive end and two defensive tackles.

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