49ers place likely starting slot receiver Ellington on IR, hamstring

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Earlier this week, the San Francisco 49ers traded for slot receiver/returner Jeremy Kerley. On Tuesday, the reason for that move became clear as the team placed presumptive starting slot receiver Bruce Ellington on injured reserve with a hamstring injury.

Ellington suffered the injury last week in the Niners' third preseason game against the Green Bay Packers. It happened on a punt return as Ellington stumbled forward to catch the punt before falling awkwardly. He limped off the field and spent most of the first half on the bench with a towel over his head. San Francisco coach Chip Kelly said Ellington had an MRI on Saturday. Ellington is not eligible for the injured reserve/designated to return tag because he was not on the 53-man roster when the preseason ended.

Ellington's two-year career has been marred by various injuries that cost him six games. The 2014 fourth-round pick out of South Carolina has 19 catches for 215 yards and two touchdowns while also serving as the primary returner over two seasons.

Kerley, who came in a deal for offensive lineman Brandon Thomas with the Detroit Lions, is expected to help fill both voids.

"Jeremy gives us some depth as a slot receiver," offensive coordinator Curtis Modkins said. "He's played a lot of football in this league as a slot. He also gives us some versatility as a returner, so he's added depth that we really need and I think he'll be able to get caught up to speed fairly quickly."

The 49ers also released linebacker Jason Fanaika to get to the league-mandated 75-man roster before Tuesday's deadline.