San Francisco 49ers cut-down analysis

August, 30, 2014
Aug 30
6:30
PM ET
Most significant move: It might actually be a move they did not make, at least not yet. The 49ers keeping third-string quarterback Josh Johnson, along with starter Colin Kaepernick and backup Blaine Gabbert defies convention or, at least, numerous projections. Many observers saw the Niners only keeping two QBs, with Johnson being shown the door. But with Gabbert getting banged up in the team's exhibition finale and Johnson putting on a show, completing 14-of-17 passes for 135 yards, three touchdowns and interception returned for a touchdown, the 49ers obviously felt the need to add depth under center. For now.

Taking a gamble: Kassim Osgood is a receiver by trade but he's made his bones with the 49ers as a special-teams ace. He was presented with a game ball after blocking a punt in the Niners' exhibition finale. No matter. Osgood is gone. But there's a very good chance he could be back in time for Week 2. As a vested veteran, Osgood's salary of $955,000 would have been guaranteed had he been on the opening week roster. It's a gamble, yes, but one the 49ers won last year with Osgood.

Specialists out: Keeping with the special teams vibe, two more such aces were shown the door, one more surprising then the first. C.J. Spillman, a backup safety, had been one of the team's top special teamers in coverage since joining the Niners in 2010 from San Diego. But his being released saved them $1.25 million in salary and a salary-cap number of almost $1.56 million, per ESPN Stats & Info. Then, there was longsnapper Kevin McDermott, seen as a lock in most corners, getting cut and the job going to Kyle Nelson, whose versatility as a tight end made McDermott expendable. After all, Nelson had five catches for 15 yards and two TDs Thursday at Houston.

What's next: Technically, the 49ers cannot place anyone on the injured reserve/designated to return list until Tuesday, meaning if they plan on making such a move, such a player would have to be on their initial 53-man roster today. Paging nose tackle Glenn Dorsey (biceps) and/or rookie center Marcus Martin (knee).

49ers' moves: Released T Carter Bykowski, TE Asante Cleveland, WR Lance Lewis, LS Kevin McDermott, CB Darryl Morris, G Al Netter, DL Lawrence Okoye, WR Kassim Osgood, T Michael Philipp, NT Mike Purcell, G Ryan Seymour, LB Shayne Skov, RB Alfonso Smith, G Adam Snyder, S C.J. Spillman, LB Chase Thomas, S Bubba Ventrone, WR L'Damian Washington and RB Glenn Winston. Placed CB Kenneth Acker and FB Will Tukuafu on injured reserve.

Paul Gutierrez

ESPN San Francisco 49ers reporter

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