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Niners begin reshaping roster

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The 49ers began streamlining their roster for 2009 by releasing safety Keith Lewis and linebacker Tully Banta-Cain.

Offensive tackle Jonas Jennings will likely join them before free agency begins Feb. 27. And quarterback Alex Smith, due more than $9 million in salary if he remains on the roster, will rework his deal or receive his release.

The moves are part of a plan that could leave San Francisco with between $20 million and $30 million in salary-cap space. Cash willing, the 49ers would be in position to make a strong push in free agency.

Banta-Cain was valuable on special teams when the 49ers named him active, but the team did not use him as much as expected on defense. Lewis was one of five 49ers draft choices remaining from Dennis Erickson's run as head coach. The others: receiver Arnaz Battle, punter Andy Lee, defensive end Isaac Sopoaga and cornerback Shawntae Spencer.

The 49ers also put in a waiver claim for quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, but the Raiders' claim prevailed because Oakland had a worse record in 2008. Talk of a shared stadium in the Bay Area will not lead to a shared roster, in other words.