49ers news: Jonas Griffith traded to Broncos, teams swap picks

San Francisco 49ers linebacker Jonas Griffith (53) Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
San Francisco 49ers linebacker Jonas Griffith (53) Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports /

The 49ers parted ways with one of their excess defenders, trading away linebacker Jonas Griffith to the Denver Broncos before the cut-down deadline.

The San Francisco 49ers got started early on Tuesday, Aug. 31 at trimming their preseason roster down to 53 players.

And one of the first moves made was to move depth linebacker Jonas Griffith to the Denver Broncos.

NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported the news early Tuesday morning:

In addition to Griffith joining Denver, San Francisco will swap seventh-round NFL Draft picks in 2022 and 2023 as well as pick up the Broncos’ 2022 Round 6 selection, per the report.

Griffith was a small-school undrafted free agent in 2020 who played his college ball at Indiana State. Signed to the practice squad his rookie year, Griffith shined early during the 49ers’ preseason opener earlier this month against the Kansas City Chiefs, registering four tackles and two pass breakups.

Yet Griffith’s preseason efforts slowed a bit over the following two weeks, eventually leading to him totaling six tackles overall.

49ers likely opening up door for other undrafted free agents

While Griffith made his case early during the preseason, a couple of other undrafted free agents from 2021, Justin Hilliard and Elijah Sullivan, now stand to have a better shot at making the team’s 53-man roster.

Or at least emerging as primary options for the Niners’ 16-man practice squad, which will be named a day after all teams are required to get their pre-Week 1 rosters down to 53 players.

Hilliard, in particular, has been one of San Francisco’s leading tacklers during the preseason. And while he won’t occupy anything more than a depth option behind the two starters, Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw, the former Ohio State standout could potentially work his way onto the regular-season roster because of his special teams prowess.

Additionally, converted safety Marcell Harris showed some knack in his transition to linebacker, further lessening the need to keep Griffith around.

This is just the opening move of many the 49ers are likely to make in the next few hours to get the roster down to 53 players by Tuesday’s 4 p.m. ET deadline.

Final 49ers 53-man roster prediction ahead of final cuts. dark. Next