September 02, 2017

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) The San Francisco 49ers cut last season's leading receiver Jeremy Kerley and veteran defensive lineman Quinton Dial on Saturday as they remained committed to youth in the first year of a rebuilding plan under coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch.

Kerley and Dial were the most notable cuts as the team announced its initial 53-man roster.

The 49ers also placed projected starting guard Joshua Garnett, fourth-round running back Joe Williams, receiver Aaron Burbridge, defensive lineman Chris Jones and defensive back Don Jones on season-ending injured reserve.

The 28-year-old Kerley had 64 catches for 664 yards last season and then signed an $8.4 million, three-year contract to stay in San Francisco. The stay ended up being a short one, but he will still get $2.8 million in guaranteed money from the deal.

Kerley was deemed expendable in part because of the play of fifth-round pick Trent Taylor as a slot receiver and the performance of free-agent acquisitions Pierre Garcon, Marquise Goodwin and Aldrick Robinson.

''That was a tough one,'' Lynch said. ''We made a decision on Jeremy early. One of the harsh realities of this league is that Jeremy was a victim of circumstance. We didn't have any of these receivers on our roster.''

The 27-year-old Dial also was a regular last season, starting 11 of his 14 games. But San Francisco is looking to build the line behind three recent first-round draft picks in Arik Armstead, DeForest Buckner and Solomon Thomas. The Niners also signed nose tackle Earl Mitchell as a free agent and have been pleased with the paly of Tank Carradine as an end.

Garnett had knee surgery after a training camp injury and the team was waiting to determine whether to keep him on the initial 53-man roster before putting him on injured reserve. The 49ers could bring him back after eight weeks or shut him down for the season.

''We all thought that would be rushing it,'' Lynch said. ''We felt giving Josh the entire year to rehab this thing correctly was the right course of action there.''

Defensive lineman Ronald Blair did make the roster but likely will be placed on injured reserve soon with a broken hand. Blair is eligible to be one of two players designated for return off IR after missing at least eight weeks.

Williams was also a notable loss. San Francisco had high hopes for him after he rushed for 1,407 yards in nine games at Utah last season. But he struggled with ball security and then hurt his ankle in the preseason finale and the team decided to shut him down for the season.

''That's a tough loss because we felt he's a guy we felt could really contribute in a big way for us,'' Lynch said. ''Everybody saw the unique capabilities Joe has. He has game-breaking speed, tremendous vision. He's going to be a big part of our future in my mind.''

The move makes room for undrafted free agent Matt Breida to make the team, as well as Raheem Mostert, who has one career carry while being with seven teams since entering as an undrafted free agent in 2015.

Williams was the only one of the team's 10 draft picks not to make the team, while Breida joined safety Lorenzo Jerome, receivers Kendrick Bourne and Victor Bolden, and offensive lineman Erik Magnuson as undrafted rookies on the roster.

''We feel like we had a really good draft. Time will tell. They made our 53-man roster and now they have to go play,'' Lynch said. ''Hopefully these guys are a huge part of the nucleus with our team in terms of us turning it around.''

The other players let go Saturday were defensive linemen Sen'Derrick Marks and Noble Nwachukwu; defensive back Asa Jackson; tight ends Blake Bell and Cole Hikutini; linebacker Austin Calitro, receivers DeAndre Carter and DeAndre Smelter; offensive linemen JP Flynn and Darrell Williams Jr.; and quarterback Nick Mullens.


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