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Friday, September 3, 2010
San Francisco 49ers cutdown analysis

By Mike Sando

Biggest surprise: Veteran running back Michael Robinson was one of the best special-teams players in the league, but he wasn't a factor on offense and that hurt him. It's worth noting that the 49ers have a new special-teams coach, and Robinson hurt his chances for a roster spot by fumbling on the first play of the exhibition opener. Keeping third tight end Nate Byham as a potential backup fullback allowed the 49ers to keep only four running backs, at least initially. Robinson was also the emergency quarterback, but with third stringer Nate Davis surviving the mandatory reduction to 53 players, Robinson wasn't as important in that capacity, either. Former 49ers linebacker Jeff Ulbrich is a first-year assistant special-teams coach in Seattle. Former 49ers general manager Scot McCloughan also works for the Seahawks. Perhaps Seattle can find a place for Robinson. I was also surprised to see the 49ers release veteran inside linebacker Matt Wilhelm.

No-brainers: Receiver Jason Hill was lost in the shuffle all through training camp, so his release came as little surprise. The team kept rookie Kyle Williams, who showed potential as a return specialist before suffering a toe injury. Dominique Zeigler also stuck after stepping up his game during camp. Zeigler's sure hands and precise route running worked in his favor. Hill could have some value elsewhere, but his future in a 49ers uniform was shaky. At tight end, Byham's development made J.J. Finley and Tony Curtis expendable. The 49ers kept only two tight ends last season. Byham proved worthy as the third tight end and as a potential backup fullback. The 49ers usually load up on defensive backs and this year might be no different; they kept 11, a high number. They also kept 10 offensive linemen, one more than usual -- not a surprise while center Eric Heitmann recovers from a broken leg.

What’s next: This is the initial 53-man roster, not the final one, and some players surviving the first cut cannot celebrate too wildly. Coach Mike Singletary has made clear his unhappiness with Davis, whose talent and potential have outweighed his preparation to this point. Davis might now have an opportunity to prove he's serious about becoming a professional and taking advantage of this second chance. On defense, the 49ers will need to monitor outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks' recovery from a lacerated kidney. Keeping Diyral Briggs and Travis LaBoy gives them pretty good depth at the position.

49ers players cut:
K Shane Andrus
LB Mike Balogun
QB Jarrett Brown
FB Jehuu Caulcrick
TE Tony Curtis
LB Bruce Davis
G Brian de la Puente
TE Joe Jon Finley
WR Bobby Guillory
WR Jason Hill
WR Kevin Jurovich
T Matt Kopa
LB Keaton Kristick
S Chris Maragos
FB Brit Miller
DT Khalif Mitchell
CB Karl Paymah
RB Michael Robinson
DT Will Tukuafu
DT Derek Walker
C Cody Wallace
LB Matt Wilhelm