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When the San Francisco 49ers kept 12 defensive backs on their 53-man roster, it seemed like an inordinate number. Not anymore.

Cornerback Shawntae Spencer will undergo season-ending surgery today to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, the team announced Tuesday. He will be placed on injured reserve, but it wasn't known who will replace him on the roster.

Spencer expressed surprise last week at a report that surgery was a possibility. He expected to play against the Lions on Sunday, but instead was placed on the inactive list.

The development might lead to more playing time for Tarell Brown, who was active for the first time this season and was part of the 49ers' blanket coverage of Detroit's highly regarded receivers. He also made a fine move on the sideline to grab his first NFL reception. Another cornerback, Donald Strickland, has missed the past two games with a sprained knee. His status for Sunday's game in New Orleans is unknown.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle