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The San Francisco 49ers broke ranks with the NFL Monday, signing defensive end Garin Veris, who was among four players granted free agency by a federal judge last week.

Veris, a second-round draft choice by New England in 1985 out of Stanford, became the first of the four new free agents - including All-Pro tight end Keith Jackson - to switch teams. The pact was a two-year contract, but the financial terms were not released."If it (what the rest of the league would think) was a concern, it was overridden by the desire to have this player on the 49ers roster," said team president Carmen Policy. "We just weren't very concerned (about the reaction) to be very honest."

Minneapolis U.S. District Court Judge David Doty last Thursday granted free agency to Veris, Jackson, Cleveland wide receiver Webster Slaughter and Detroit running back D.J. Dozier. All four had been without contracts.

Veris, a 6-foot-4, 255-pound 29-year-old, would become part of a deep 49ers defensive line which already includes ends Kevin Fagan, Pierce Holt, Dennis Brown and Tim Harris.

"What went through our minds first of all was our needs and improving the competitive nature of this team," Policy said. "This player stood out as a glaring example of how to fill the void created by Larry Roberts injury ... There was no question he has the talents to do what needs to be done."

Veris said he also had talked with Green Bay, Buffalo and Cleveland, but that none of those teams were given a chance to put an offer on the table.