The San Francisco 49ers — and all other NFL teams — are required to have their regular-season roster trimmed to 53 players by 4 p.m. ET on Saturday, September 3. Niner Noise breaks down each one of the team’s moves.
The San Francisco 49ers will have their 53-man roster for Week 1 of the regular season by the end of Saturday.
NFL teams are required to cut rosters down to 53 players by 4 p.m. ET on September 3.
San Francisco has a number of tough decisions to make. Armed with a relatively young roster, the Niners are going to focus on putting the best available options on the field as they part ways with talent not a part of the team’s immediate future.
Some of these younger players may wind up on the team’s practice squad, if they’re eligible. Others will be vying for openings elsewhere.
The Niners’ final preseason game provided a glimpse into who might be cut. Typically, players who see a lot of field time to close out the preseason wind up being released.
The move is such so that these guys get a chance to land a job with other teams.
Niner Noise provides a brief breakdown for each player cut as the team gears up for the regular season.
Stay tuned with us as we continuously update this tracker until the deadline.
WR Devon Cajuste
The 49ers cut rookie UDFA Devon Cajuste. The 6-foot-4, 227-pound wideout caught just one pass for 40 yards over four preseason games.
Cajuste has tremendous hands, so it’s possible the Niners are trying to stash the former Stanford standout on the practice squad.
WR Ryan Whalen
San Francisco also parted ways with former 2011 sixth-round draft pick Ryan Whalen, who was initially drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals.
Whalen was more of a camp body this preseason in order to reinforce the Niners’ receiving corps leading up to the regular season.
DL B.J. McBryde
The Niners released second-year defensive lineman B.J. McBryde, per Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area. McBryde was a long shot to make the 53-man roster, given the depth San Francisco had along its defensive line.
LB Corey Lemonier
The 49ers also released former 2013 third-round draft pick Corey Lemonier. The fourth-year linebacker had been a major disappointment since joining the pro ranks and had registered just one sack during his Niners tenure.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter first reported the roster move.
Up-and-coming pass-rusher Marcus Rush‘s strong preseason effort likely forced San Francisco to make this move. Even with the team’s best pass-rusher, linebacker Aaron Lynch, starting the season on the reserve/suspended list, Rush looks like a player not worthy of a cut.
NT Garrison Smith
The Niners are also parting ways with nose tackle Garrison Smith, per his agent.
Smith finished third for the 49ers this season in tackles. Although it’s tough to see San Francisco keeping Smith with the depth the team already has at this position.
Quinton Dial can play the nose, and Mike Purcell figures to back him up. At least the transaction allows Smith the chance to land a more prominent job elsewhere.
DL Demetrius Cherry
San Francisco has also released rookie UDFA defensive lineman Demetrius Cherry, per Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee.
RB Kelvin Taylor
Schefter also reported the Niners released rookie running back Kelvin Taylor, who displayed a good deal of prowess during San Francisco’s final preseason game.
Taylor was a sixth-round draftee, whom the 49ers likely envisioned as a backup candidate for No. 1 tailback Carlos Hyde. But the sudden emergence of second-year pro Mike Davis likely forced Taylor out of the picture.
Taylor is still eligible for the practice squad if he makes it through waivers.
LB Shayne Skov
The Niners also released linebacker Shayne Skov, per Barrows.
Skov signed with the 49ers in 2014 as an undrafted free agent out of Stanford. He spent his rookie year on the practice squad but ended up appearing in 15 games last season.
Skov appeared primarily on special teams and ended up playing the entire portion of San Francisco’s preseason finale against the San Diego Chargers.
TE Je’Ron Hamm
Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle reported the Niners also released tight end Je’Ron Hamm.
San Francisco has a lot of depth at tight end already. Vance McDonald, Garrett Celek, Bruce Miller and Blake Bell could round out this position, unless further cuts take place. The 49ers also have long-snapper Kyle Nelson.
OL Colin Kelly
Maiocco also reported the Niners released offensive lineman Colin Kelly, who is still eligible for the practice squad if he’s able to clear waivers.
QB Jeff Driskel
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported the 49ers are going to keep recent free-agent quarterback Christian Ponder after he had an impressive effort against the Chargers.
This would mean rookie QB Jeff Driskel would likely be cut. Driskel struggled his final preseason game, although the Niners would likely try to stash him on the practice squad.
Barrows later announced the official move.
WR Bryce Treggs
Rookie wideout Bryce Treggs was also among the cuts, per Maiocco.
Treggs, an undrafted free agent out of Cal, had some impressive moments in training camp before suffering an injury during the preseason. The cut suggests Treggs is healed from the injury, and he would likely be a candidate for San Francisco’s practice squad if he clears waivers.
WR Dres Anderson
Second-year wideout Dres Anderson was also released, per Barrows.
Anderson was one of the better standouts for San Francisco’s passing game this preseason. He hauled in a 30-yard touchdown pass against the Denver Broncos and also helped set up a touchdown drive in the final preseason week in San Diego.
If Anderson clears waivers, it’s likely the 49ers will try to keep him on the practice squad.
LB Marcus Rush
If Anderson’s release wasn’t a surprise move, Rush’s release certainly was.
Rush led all the NFL with six preseason sacks. Take that number for what it is, but the 49ers pass rush needs help to start the season.
The Niners have to hope edge-rusher Tank Carradine will be able to supply a big chunk of the pass rush. Rookie Ronald Blair is another player to watch here.
This one might be a bit of a head-scratcher, although Rush could still slip through waivers and onto the practice squad.
WR DeAndre Smelter
San Francisco also waived wide receiver DeAndre Smelter, who spent his rookie 2014 campaign on the non-football injury list.
Smelter, a fourth-round draft pick of the Niners, struggled to get back to 100 percent during training camp and was dealing with a hamstring injury.
The 49ers announced two transactions Saturday. The Niners shipped off safety L.J. McCray to the Seattle Seahawks and brought in wide receiver Rod Streater from the Kansas City Chiefs.
Both were in exchange for undisclosed draft picks and were announced — as were remaining transactions — on the team’s website.