NFL cut dates: When must the 49ers trim down the offseason roster?

The 49ers are one of plenty teams that'll be forced into some tough decisions when it comes time to make roster cuts.
San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch (L) and Kyle Shanahan (R)
San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch (L) and Kyle Shanahan (R) / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

The 49ers, along with the NFL's other 31 teams, have a strict deadline when it comes to getting the 90-man offseason roster down to 53 players.

One of the things that stood out about the inaugural Brick by Brick series about the San Francisco 49ers way back in 2017 was how then first-year head coach Kyle Shanahan and then first-year general manager John Lynch kept saying over and over that they had so many "tough decisions" with regard to making the initial 53-man roster.

Years later, with the Niners now a perennial Super Bowl contender chock full of talent, those tough choices are exponentially tougher.

San Francisco is going to part ways with starting-caliber talent in its needed attempt to go from 90 players on the offseason roster down to the 53-man roster that'll grace the field for Week 1.

If you're an NFL novice (it's OK), all teams can carry up to 90 players throughout the offseason and into the preseason, but they'll need to be down to no more than 53 players on the active roster once the regular season begins.

Players who wind up on the practice squad or on an injured-reserve list don't count against that 53-man roster.

When must the 49ers make their final roster cuts for the 2023 season?

Rules for trimming offseason rosters down to 53 players have changed over the years. There have been tiered roster cuts, and back when the NFL preseason was four games prior to the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, teams typically had to trim rosters from 90 players down to 85 after the second preseason game, then 85 to 80 after the third preseason game, and finally, from 80 players all the way down to 53 once the preseason had concluded.

This year, the NFL adopoted a single cut-down day where teams can go from 90 players down to 53.

The date, according to the league's operations office, is Tuesday, Aug. 29 at 4 p.m. ET.

San Francisco plays its final preseason game on Friday, Aug. 25, against the Los Angeles Chargers, so that'll give Shanahan and Lynch a few days to make those tough choices.

While the Aug. 29 deadline is a hard deadline, Shanahan and the 49ers may cut players ahead of time, too, particularly if there's a good-faith initiative to give that player a chance to sign on with another team before the rush of other players who suddenly become free agents on Aug. 29.

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