The 49ers made their first league-mandated wave of cuts, dropping from 90 players down to 85, yet there’s one surprising player who was let go.
It’s never a fun time of year for NFL players on the fringes of a team’s roster.
Not unlike the rules the league had before the pandemic, teams have to trim their 90-man offseason rosters down in tiers, and in 2022, the first tier took place on Tuesday, Aug. 16 at 4 p.m. ET after all 32 squads had wrapped up their opening preseason games and had at least one day to evaluate who should continue on and who should be let go.
San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan has plenty of tough choices to make between last Friday’s exhibition victory over the Green Bay Packers and by the time regular-season 53-man rosters are announced the Tuesday after the Niners’ third and final preseason game on Thursday, Aug. 25.
He can wait on some of those choices, though, as the first wave of cuts for today only involved five players.
49ers part ways with 5 players from 90-man offseason roster
Given San Francisco already boasted a playoff-caliber roster heading into training camp, one could expect a number of starting-quality players to be let go.
Some teams part ways with solid veterans early if they’re aware those players have an excellent chance of signing with another team shortly thereafter, essentially giving the players a jumpstart on landing with a new squad before further waves of freshly cut players hit the open market.
In other cases, teams simply bid farewell to players who have little-to-no chance of making an impact whatsoever. Not even with the practice squad.
For the 49ers, these five were unfortunately part of that opening wave of cuts:
- FB Josh Hokit
- WR KeeSean Johnson
- DL Tomasi Laulile
- DL Robert Nkemdiche
- CB Darqueze Dennard
There’ll likely be one more roster move to make before the team takes flight to Minnesota for joint practices with the Vikings this week.
Are 49ers smart to cut Darqueze Dennard?
Shanahan has control over who makes the eventual 53-man roster, and he certainly has both ideas and plans for how the group will come together.
Still, the Niners parting ways with Dennard is quite provocative.
On the surface, it makes sense. San Francisco watched rookie cornerback Samuel Womack put forth a two-interception game against the Green Bay Packers in Week 1 of the preseason, which all but ensured he’d play a vital role this upcoming season at nickel.
The position for which Dennard was also competing after joining the 49ers late last year.
Womack had impressed during offseason workouts and in training camp, so perhaps Dennard being released isn’t too much of a shocker. And by letting him walk early, the Niners are essentially doing the veteran a favor by letting him get a jump-start on his newfound free agency.
However, one might be a little worried if Womack’s impressive outing against another opponent was a mere “flash in the pan,” while parting ways with an experienced veteran could prove to be a setback when the regular season rolls around.
It doesn’t seem that way right now, but one can fairly wonder if San Francisco should have kept Dennard around as insurance to help guard against Womack’s inexperience.