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Thursday, May 21, 2009
Bly to fill CB void left by injured Harris

By John Clayton and Bill Williamson
ESPN.com

The 49ers wasted no time finding a replacement for injured cornerback Walt Harris because they reached a one-year deal with cornerback Dre Bly.

The 31-year-old Bly was released by the Broncos on Feb. 17. He spent two seasons with the Broncos after coming over in a trade from the Detroit Lions. The plan in Denver was for Bly and Champ Bailey to form one of the best cornerback tandems in the league. Mike Shanahan, the former Broncos coach, felt so good about the move that the organization gave Bly a five-year, $33 million contract.

Harris blew out his right ACL this week during an organized team activity. Though the injury wasn't considered serious at first, further tests revealed the ACL was torn and Harris was expected to miss the season. Rather than rely on younger corners, the 49ers decided to bring in Bly, a 10-year NFL veteran, to try to be the starter on the other side of Nate Clements.

"We lost a Pro Bowl-caliber player in Walt Harris this week, and we were able to fill that void with another Pro Bowler in Dre Bly," 49ers general manager Scot McCloughan said. "It was important to get Dre in here quickly so that he can get acquainted with our system, our coaches and his new teammates."

San Francisco, which finished four days of organized team activities earlier Thursday, signed Bly just a few hours after he arrived in town for a workout. Brian Kelly, the former Tampa Bay cornerback, also was scheduled for a visit.

John Clayton and Bill Williamson cover the NFL for ESPN.com. Information from the Associated Press was also used in this report.