Niners bolster defense by picking up Roman, DeLoach

Updated: July 29, 2006, 12:57 AM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

Only one full day into training camp, the San Francisco 49ers have moved to strengthen their secondary, with ESPN.com learning that the team has reached a contract agreement with veteran safety Mark Roman, who was released Thursday by the Green Bay Packers.

Contract details were not yet available, but the acquisition of Roman provides the 49ers a starting-caliber defender and enhanced depth. The 49ers also signed veteran free agent defensive lineman Jerry DeLoach, released by the Houston Texans earlier this spring.

Roman, 29, was jettisoned by the Packers despite having started 31 of a possible 32 games over the last two seasons. The six-year veteran was irked when Green Bay added former Seattle safety Marquand Manuel as an unrestricted free agent early in the signing period, and suggested then it might be time to move on.

When the Packers finally decided to cut Roman loose, it didn't take long for him to find a new home. He was contacted by several teams but felt the 49ers' situation provided him the best opportunity.

The former LSU standout, who entered the league with the Cincinnati Bengals as a second-round choice in the 2000 draft, is a solid interior secondary defender. Roman is not a big-play performer, as evidenced by just four career interceptions, but he is fundamentally sound and is a good addition for the 49ers, whose depth at safety is thin.

San Francisco already has an excellent strong safety in Tony Parrish, but the seven-year veteran is still recovering from a broken left leg in 2005 that ended his streak of 121 straight appearances, and Roman gives the team an experienced insurance policy. Since he also has started at free safety in the past, there is a chance Roman could challenge Mike Adams for the starting job there.

Roman registered 90 tackles and two interceptions for Green Bay in 2005, but the new coaching staff did not feel he fit in with its plans. For his career, Roman, who signed with the Packers as a free agent in 2004 after spending his first four league seasons with the Bengals, has 332 tackles, six sacks, 24 passes defensed and three fumble recoveries, while appearing in 82 games.

DeLoach, 29, is a five-year veteran who has played with Washington (2001) and Houston (2002-2005), and has 131 tackles and three sacks in 73 games. He has played all three defensive line spots in a 3-4 scheme, and that versatility is what interested the 49ers.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here Insider.