NFL roster cuts: AFC | NFC

NFL Nation: Kyle Nelson

San Francisco 49ers cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2012
8/31/12
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Most significant move. The San Francisco 49ers' decision to keep running back Anthony Dixon played into a broader special-teams theme. Veteran fullback Rock Cartwright, once seen as a key special-teams addition following Blake Costanzo's departure in free agency, received his release. The 49ers traded another core special-teams player, safety Colin Jones, to Carolina for what was thought to be a 2014 seventh-round choice.

The 49ers' decision at quarterback was also among those I found most significant. The team kept Scott Tolzien over Josh Johnson in the No. 3 role even though Johnson played for 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh at the University of San Diego. Johnson also outplayed Tolzien in the final exhibition game. Keeping Tolzien appealed, however, because his ceiling appears less defined. Johnson has played in the NFL without setting a sharply upward career trajectory. Colin Kaepernick's emergence as a stronger No. 2 quarterback bought some insurance for carrying a less-experienced third-stringer, perhaps.

Onward and upward: Linebacker Michael Wilhoite, offensive lineman Mike Person and safety Michael Thomas appear to be young players with futures in the NFL. Defensive lineman Matthew Masifilo impressed in the final exhibition game. The 49ers' practice squad will be an option for some of the players let go, but I won't be surprised if waiver claims from other teams get in the way. The 49ers have done a good job building talented depth throughout their roster.

The team also released Eric Bakhtiari, Ikaika Alama-Francis, Derek Hall, Joe Holland, Tony Jerod-Eddie, Cam Johnson, Anthony Mosley, Kyle Nelson, Al Netter, Chris Owusu, Nathan Palmer, Konrad Reuland, Kenny Rowe, Brett Swain and Kenny Wiggins.

Reuland could get another chance. It was a mild surprise, perhaps, to see Garrett Celek stick ahead of Reuland as the third tight end.

What's next: The 49ers will watch closely to see which players clear waivers. Wilhoite is one they would like to re-sign, according to his agent, but teams looking for young depth at linebacker could submit claims. The team could use another outside linebacker, at least on paper, but the 49ers got through last season with only three of them.

The 49ers are carrying only eight offensive linemen. Their swing tackle, Alex Boone, is starting at right guard. If there's an offensive tackle out there worth claiming, the 49ers could consider adding one. But two of their division rivals, Arizona and St. Louis, have greater needs and higher waiver priorities.
Ted Ginn Jr.'s return to the San Francisco 49ers on a one-year contract, announced by the team Thursday, restores experience and breakaway speed to the return game.

The 49ers badly missed Ginn when an injury sidelined him during the playoffs last season.

The chart ranks the 49ers' current wide receivers by games started last season.
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49ers buy flexibility with Manningham

March, 18, 2012
3/18/12
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Mario Manningham scored go-ahead touchdowns against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 10 and again in the NFC Championship Game.

If those plays did not get the 49ers' attention, Manningham's clutch 38-yard reception to sustain the winning touchdown drive in Super Bowl XLVI surely did.

The 49ers' contract agreement with Manningham came as the receiver market was drying up Saturday. It also kept Manningham from signing with an upcoming 49ers opponent. Manningham, 25, visited the St. Louis Rams after meeting with the 49ers.

San Francisco has now added Randy Moss and Manningham to a position that had subtracted Josh Morgan. The 49ers now have Michael Crabtree, Moss, Manningham, Kyle Williams, John Matthews, Joe Hastings, Dontavia Bogan and Kyle Nelson at the position.

Adding Moss and Manningham gives the 49ers flexibility heading into the draft. They should face less pressure to add a receiver in the first round.

The Scouts Inc. report on Manningham heading into the 2011 season said he "runs well but is quicker than fast and gets separation out of his break points with great burst and agility. ... He isn't a physical blocker but is effective at walling off on the perimeter. Manningham is a good, young receiver with big-play ability."

The 49ers will presumably have the 6-foot, 185-pound Manningham work on the blocking part. Morgan was a ferocious blocker for years. Crabtree developed into one last season.

Manningham agreed to a two-year deal. That indicates the 49ers got him at a reasonable price. Most big-money deals run longer, allowing teams to spread out the salary-cap impact.
Ten thoughts as NFL free agency moves through its sixth hour:
  • Red Bryant's re-signing in Seattle stands as the biggest NFC West-related signing to this point, trailed by Josh Morgan's departure from San Francisco to Washington. News on the quarterback front remains slow. If the Seahawks consider former Miami starter Chad Henne, they will not be talking big money.
  • The Chaz Schilens market should be fascinating to watch unfold over the next month. Alas, for all the hype surrounding the few big-name free agents hitting the NFL market Tuesday, lesser-known role players such as Schilens are carrying much of the conversation in this division. Schilens, a part-time starter in Oakland with 72 catches over four seasons, visited Arizona and plans to visit San Francisco.
  • San Francisco appears increasingly justified for signing Randy Moss as free-agent options dissipate. We can remove Vincent Jackson's name from the list of prominent receivers potentially under consideration; he's headed to Tampa Bay on a five-year deal. Pierre Garcon is also off the market, having joined Morgan in reaching agreement with the Redskins. The chart below shows current and recent 49ers receivers, ranked from oldest to youngest. Moss and Michael Crabtree could use some company.
  • Deals for Jackson and other wideouts stand to affect Mike Wallace's asking price, but market conditions are far less favorable for restricted free agents. Wallace, arguably the NFL's top deep threat, remains available for any team willing to make an offer the Steelers would not match. The signing team would have to part with a first-round pick. The 49ers appear less likely to do so after signing Moss.
  • Jim Thomas is pointing to Tennessee's Cortland Finnegan as the Rams' top priority at cornerback in free agency. That means the 49ers' Carlos Rogers is not the Rams' top priority at the position, despite Rogers' ties to Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. What is the market for Rogers? Might the 49ers sign him in the future? They appear to be moving on at the position, though it's too early to say for certain.
  • The Cardinals, having done well to land Daryn Colledge in free agency last offseason, are in the market for another guard. The Titans' Jake Scott is visiting, Thomas and Kent Somers note. Scott turns 31 next month and has started 120 consecutive regular-season games, the second-longest streak for an active guard. Scott played at Idaho while Colledge, 30, was at Boise State.
  • Looks like Seattle and St. Louis have interest in Titans defensive tackle Jason Jones. The Rams would presumably have the inside track. Jones played for new Rams coach Jeff Fisher. St. Louis also has the greater need. The Rams are starting over at defensive tackle.
  • It's tough to know for sure just how hard teams are chasing after certain players. Agents tend to err on the side of overstatement while attempting to build markets for their clients. Too frequently, the same goes for contract figures. Arizona's Kevin Kolb supposedly received $21 million in "guaranteed" money last offseason, but if the Cardinals cut him this week, he'll leave with $12 million -- great money for one partial season as a starter, but not $21 million.
  • The Seahawks could not justify naming tight end John Carlson their franchise player, but re-signing him would give them very good depth at the position. The fact that Carlson visited Kansas City right away shows he's eager to check out opportunities elsewhere, however.
  • The Rams have so far held onto 2009 first-round pick Jason Smith. They could keep him, but with Houston unexpectedly releasing Eric Winston, the Rams will visit with him, Adam Schefter reports. The Rams could do much worse than having Winston and Harvey Dahl on the right side.

Now, on to the chart showing 49ers wide receivers with the team currently or in the recent past ...

More NFC South transactions

September, 4, 2011
9/04/11
3:17
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Let’s catch up on a few more transactions that have come out Sunday.

As expected, the Bucs didn’t sit still at linebacker. They reportedly have signed Zac Diles, who was released by St. Louis. Diles fits the profile of what the Bucs were looking for in a backup for rookie middle linebacker Mason Foster. They wanted someone with experience, but not an older player. Diles also played at Kansas State when Tampa Bay coach Raheem Morris was an assistant.

Diles made 30 career starts while with the Houston Texans. He can play the middle or strong-side linebacker. We don’t know the flip side of this move yet. But the Bucs could be adding more players, and that would mean more releases.

In other news, the New Orleans Saints signed eight players to their practice squad. Linebacker Nate Bussey, quarterback Sean Canfield, tight end Michael Higgins, cornerback Terrail Lambert, defensive tackle Swanson Miller, long snapper Kyle Nelson, center Cecil Newton and receiver Andy Tanner, who all spent time with the Saints this summer, were signed. Newton is the brother of Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.
The Saints just sent out their official list of undrafted rookie free agents they say they’ve agreed to terms with. Let’s take a quick run through the list.
  • Isa Abdul Quddus, safety, Fordham
  • Harold Beilby, offensive tackle, Marian (Ind.)
  • John Chiles, wide receiver, Texas
  • Ryan Colburn, quarterback, Fresno State
  • Jarred Fayson, wide receiver, Illinois
  • Harry Flaherty, tight end, Princeton
  • C.J. Gable, running back, Southern California
  • Michael Galatas, wide receiver, Millsaps
  • Josh Gatlin, cornerback,North Dakota State
  • Michael Higgins, tight end, Nebraska-Omaha
  • Jerimiha Hunter, linebacker, Iowa
  • Kolby Hurt, fullback, Missouri State
  • Carl Johnson, guard, Florida
  • Dexter Larimore, defensive tackle, Ohio State
  • DeAndre McDaniel, safety, Clemson
  • Josh Morgan, wide receiver, Walsh
  • Kyle Nelson, long-snapper, New Mexico State
  • Dwight Roberson, linebacker, Oregon State
  • Mike Smith, offensive lineman, Nebraska
  • Ryan Taylor, center, UCLA

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