McCown not what Niners were looking for in No.3 QB
The 49ers’ final cutdown to the NFL-mandated 53-man roster limit held few surprises Saturday, other than that the team has decided to tread lightly moving forward at quarterback, where San Francisco could add another veteran at any time once players released around the league clear waivers. Here’s a look at the 26 players waived by the Niners and why they no longer are with the team.
The Niners cut 15 players on offense and 11 on defense, including three veterans who finished the season last year on San Francisco’s final 53-man roster and two others who finished 2010 on injured reserve. Only one of the team’s 2011 draft picks failed to make it past the initial cutdown.
WR Dominique Zeigler: The third-year veteran was a tough cut for the 49ers because Zeigler has proven he can play in the NFL and contribute as both a receiver and special teams performer. He had a few things working against him this year, however: His late start this summer due to a torn knee ligament that put Zeigler on injured reserve last November; the fact that he got truncated time to show the new coaching staff his stuff because of his injury and the NFL lockout; and the team’s logjam of similar talent in the middle of the depth chart at receiver. If the 49ers had kept six wideouts, Zeigler probably would have been the sixth. Coming to the 49ers as an undrafted free agent from Baylor in 2007, Zeigler spent his rookie season on San Francisco’s practice squad, played in eight game with the team in 2008, spent the entire 2009 season on the practice squad again, then had career-high totals of nine receptions for 98 yards in 11 games last year before being hurt. In 19 games with the Niners, Zeigler had 14 receptions for 195 yards, averaging 13.9 yards per catch.
QB Josh McCown: The 49ers must be looking for more in a veteran backup than this nine-year NFL veteran had to offer, because McCown had looked capable in limited practice snaps and then performed like he belonged in his only preseason appearance Thursday at San Diego, completing each of his four passes and leading the Niners on a 71-yard scoring drive early in the fourth quarter. This move suggests the 49ers will be looking for a veteran backup to supplant rookie Colin Kaepernick as the team’s No. 2 quarterback entering the season after Kaepernick looked less than ready for prime time during the preseason.
QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson: Looked to be just a camp arm when the 49ers signed the undrafted rookie before training camp, but he stuck until the final cutdown and got on the preseason stat sheet with three kneel-downs at the end of Thursday’s preseason finale at San Diego. Big and with a decent arm, this has to be a considered a positive summer for the Sacramento State product and he may have shown enough developmental promise for someone to consider him a practice-squad candidate.
G/C Tony Wragge: The unsung sixth-year veteran’s versatility, reliability and experience weren’t enough to land him a job as a reserve interior linemen this time around as the 49ers opted to go young and keep both fifth-round pick Daniel Kilgore and seventh-round pick Mike Person on the final roster. Wragge’s ace in the hole last year was that the team didn’t have a backup center, but veteran Adam Snyder’s audition at that position this summer went well enough that Snyder will be starting center Jonathan Goodwin’s backup this year along with his duties as the top swing backup at guard – both roles that Wragge has held with the 49ers in the past.
C Chase Beeler: The All-American from Stanford faced long odds to make the final roster after the 49ers signed free agent Goodwin last month to battle with holdover veteran Snyder for the starting job at center. Beeler saw limited time in the preseason and appeared to be more of a developmental prospect than a guy who could step in as a backup center to begin his first season, and he’s another youngster who could be asked back to the practice squad.
FB Jack Corcoran: Probably one of the most obvious final cuts for the 49ers since he wasn’t going to be kept at fullback over veteran Moran Norris and seventh-round pick Bruce Miller, who both made the team’s initial 53-man roster.
OT Derek Hall: The undrafted rookie from Stanford had a good showing this summer and displayed some versatility that could make him a possibility for the practice squad. With the veterans and two draft picks ahead of him, Hall simply had too many players to climb over to make the final roster.
WR Joe Hastings: Didn’t stand much chance of sticking with the numbers game at wide receiver, but the Niners like what they saw from the undrafted rookie from Washburn and he could get asked back to the developmental squad after clearing waivers.
WR Ronald Johnson: The sixth-round draft pick has NFL skills, but he played himself off the bubble with a poor showing during the preseason, particularly in the third game against Houston when he muffed one punt and fumbled away another. Johnson probably was at best the No. 7 receiver on a team that kept only five on its final roster. There figures to be a place on San Francisco’s practice squad waiting for Johnson if he clears waivers, which seems likely after what he put on film during the preseason. Johnson was the only member of San Francisco’s 10-player draft class to be released.
WR Chris Hogan: The 49ers liked the size, athleticism and versatility of the 6-foot-1, 220-pound undrafted rookie from Monmouth, and those features kept him around to the final cut. But he was in no-man’s land with 10 receivers vying for five roster slots on cutdown Saturday.
TE Nate Lawrie: The fifth-year veteran has seen time with five other NFL teams and also played recently in the United Football League, but he didn’t show the 49ers enough to keep three tight ends at the first cutdown, which certainly was something the team was considering.
WR Lance Long: The two-year veteran spent the entire summer listed as second on the depth chart at flanker behind Josh Morgan, but he lost out to Kyle Williams in a fight for No. 5 and slot-receiver duties. Long finished second on the team during the preseason with five receptions and had a solid summer with the team but couldn’t push ahead of the final wideouts the Niners decided to keep.
RB Xavier Omon: Probably a tough cut for the 49ers to make after Omon brought some attractive skills as a power running back, finishing 23rd in the NFL in preseason rushing with 121 yards, averaging 4.0 yards a pop. But the 49ers didn’t have the luxury of keeping four halfbacks, and Omon couldn’t push ahead of Frank Gore’s young backups, second-year veteran Anthony Dixon and flashy rookie Kendall Hunter.
TE Konrad Reuland: Another undrafted rookie from Stanford who made a strong roster push, Reuland’s strengths really didn’t fit the power-blocking role the 49ers needed in a No. 3 tight end behind Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker. Reuland is more of a pass-catcher at the position, and the 49ers already have two skilled veterans to fill that role.
OT Kenny Wiggins: The undrafted rookie from Fresno State couldn’t push past seventh-round pick Person to be the team’s No. 4 tackle despite a fine effort this summer.
CB Phillip Adams: Still limited by the ankle injury that ended his rookie season last year in December, Adams made a valiant comeback this summer but the 49ers opted to go with others among the 11 defensive backs the team kept on its final roster. Adams’ skills as a backup cornerback and ability to contribute on special teams probably made him one of the Niners’ toughest final cuts.
DT Brian Bulcke: The undersized but scrappy undrafted rookie from Stanford had a good showing this summer, but unfortunately for Bulcke, so did two other undrafted rookies who made the team along the defensive line. Bulcke made a positive impression, but not enough of one to squeeze a roster berth on one of the team’s strongest units.
CB Phillip Davis: The undrafted rookie from Tulane was buried on the depth chart from the start of training camp and never got enough opportunities to work his way up.
LB Alex Joseph: Not even a strong effort in the preseason finale at San Diego could convince the 49ers to keep the youngster who spent time on San Francisco’s practice squad last year. The Niners opted instead to go with Keaton Kristick, Larry Grant and Blake Costanzo as the backups at inside linebacker to Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman. Each of those three also figure to be regulars on special teams, where Joseph also made an impression this season. He could be called back to the practice squad.
S Chris Maragos: The re-signing of Dashon Goldson and addition of veteran free agents Donte Whitner and Madieu Williams this summer made it tough for the unheralded Maragos to keep his spot on the final roster that he earned at the end of last season as an undrafted rookie free agent. Maragos continued to develop this summer but got caught in a numbers game at the position.
S Curtis Taylor: The team’s seventh-round draft pick in 2009, Taylor stuck on the final roster in each of his first two NFL seasons but found himself in a situation similar to Maragos this summer. Like Maragos, he still has practice-squad eligibility remaining.
CB Cory Nelms: The undrafted rookie free agent was buried on the depth chart from the get-go this summer, but he made a positive impression and showed some developmental progress over the past month. It could be enough to earn him an extended look on the practice squad.
OLB Kenny Rowe: The undrafted rookie free agent had his moments throughout the summer and preseason, but he faced a numbers game at the position which was already strong ahead of him with established veterans and the addition of first-round draft pick Aldon Smith.
NT Sealver Siliga: One of several undrafted rookie free agents who got a look along the defensive line, Siliga had some moments but was outplayed by other youngsters who fought their way onto the final roster.
OLB Monte Simmons: Gained some notice early in summer camp and the preseason, but couldn’t keep up enough momentum the rest of the way to have a legitimate shot at sticking at one of the team’s stronger positions.
DB Anthony West: The undrafted free agent from Nebraska never really found a defined position in the secondary and thus didn’t have much of a shot at making the final roster. He was listed on the team’s final summer depth chart at strong safety, where the 49ers kept three veterans ahead of him.