Niners sign former Bengals linebacker Navies

With their linebacker depth dwindling even as their victory total increases, the San Francisco 49ers have added veteran insurance at the position, signing much-traveled free agent Hannibal Navies, who will be joining his fourth different team.

Navies, 29, has not played since being released by the Cincinnati Bengals toward the end of training camp this summer. He was a key special teams player for Cincinnati in 2005.

San Francisco made the move after placing T.J. Slaughter on injured reserve with a torn tendon in his left ring finger. Slaughter had appeared in all 10 games this season and had registered 10 tackles. Another linebacker, Jeff Ulbrich, has a torn ligament in his right thumb but is expected to try to play this week.

The 49ers auditioned several veteran linebackers earlier this week -- including Sedrick Hodge, Nate Wayne and Jay Foreman -- but opted to sign Navies.

A seven-year veteran, Navies has experience at all three linebacker positions, and that versatility might serve the 49ers well once he assimilates the defensive system. His primary contribution for now is expected to be on the special teams coverage units, where he has nearly 40 career tackles.

In stints with Carolina (1999-2002), Green Bay (2003-04) and Cincinnati (2005), Navies has appeared in 85 games. The former Colorado standout has 227 tackles, 3 sacks, one interception, four forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.