49ers.com

49ers.com



On October 10, the San Francisco 49ers signed CB JaCorey Shepherd. On Sunday against the New Orleans Saints, Shepherd was very productive on special teams, returning three kickoffs for 102 yards. Today, head coach Chip Kelly spoke highly of Shepherd, who was actually on pace to be a starter for him in Philadelphia.

"When we had JaCorey when I was in Philadelphia, he was going to be our starting nickel and then, unfortunately for him, and not through any fault of his own, he hurt his leg," Kelly said. "I think he was on track to become a starter for us and we thought very, very highly of him when we were there. Then all of a sudden when we lost [49ers CB] Chris Davis and they're talking about nickels available out there, one of the first names that came up -- I had experience with him -- we jumped at the chance.

"He's a guy that fell a little bit in the draft because he had hurt his hamstring before the Combine and didn't really run at the Combine. Obviously, everybody wants to know how fast is somebody. That's the biggest thing. When he didn't run at the Combine, you watched his tape and he was very, very productive. Coached by Dave Campo, former NFL coach at Kansas. He raved about him. So all of the reports that you got back said he was a really good player.

"I understand the trepidation with people not knowing what his time in the 40 was because he didn't run. When it got to his pro day, he was encouraged to run. I don't think he was at 100-percent healthy and he ran 4.7 at his pro day. Did all of the drills and did a really nice job, but I think he slipped in the draft because of that 40-time. That really wasn't indicative of how fast JaCorey is so we felt like when we got him, he was a tremendous player.



"I don't know what went on after I left, but when he was available, especially at the point in time when he was available, I thought he'd be a great fit. You love his makeup. You love his approach to the game. Very smart, very intelligent football player. We felt like we got a really good player. I think he's starting to show that from a special teams standpoint and as we get him integrated in the secondary.

"The kick return stuff, we knew he did in college but we hadn't -- we had [Eagles RB Darren] Sproles and a couple of other guys so we weren't really using him as a kick returner in Philly so that's kind of a bonus, I think. But he certainly was very productive for us this past Sunday."

Kelly was asked how he sees Shepherd fitting into the secondary. "A lot of it is mix and match," Kelly answered. "Matchups, who you're playing. I think he's getting more comfortable with our system. Almost everybody does the same thing in the National Football League but it's called -- the terminology is a lot different from place to place to place. So it's his comfort level with that. Again, like I said, he's really smart so I think he's picked it up fairly well. We'll see has he continues to grow here."

Shepherd was selected in the sixth round of the 2015 NFL Draft as the 191st overall pick by Chip Kelly who was then with the Philadelphia Eagles. He tore his ACL the following August, which forced Shepherd to miss the 2015 season. This past September, he was released by the Eagles, but re-signed to the practice squad later in the month. He was released again on October 7, opening the door for the 49ers to sign him three days later.