Five most surprising cut-down day developments

Five most surprising developments from 49ers’ 53-man roster originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

The shocking development of the week occurred on the eve of the NFL’s mandatory cuts to 53 players per team.

But Jimmy Garoppolo accepting what amounts to a $17.2 million pay cut to remain with the 49ers was not the only interesting development in a two-day span for the organization.

The 49ers had decisions to make. Would they keep two quarterbacks or three on their active roster? Then, which quarterback would they decide was worthy of protecting?

Those questions led to the most surprising developments of Tuesday, as the 49ers set their initial roster with the regular-season opener approaching on Sept. 11 against the Chicago Bears:

1. Purdy secures spot as No. 3

The 49ers re-signed veteran quarterback Nate Sudfeld in the offseason and gave him a one-year contract worth $2 million fully guaranteed.

This was done at a time when Garoppolo was almost assuredly going to be playing for another team, and the 49ers had no idea they would be in a position to draft a quarterback with a realistic chance of winning a spot on the team.

Sudfeld appeared to be OK during training camp. But Purdy impressed coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch to the point that they were satisfied with him entering the season as the team’s No. 2 quarterback behind Trey Lance.

They might have been OK with Purdy as the team’s backup. But they love him as the team’s No. 3 quarterbacks behind Lance and Garoppolo.

Meanwhile, the 49ers hope some team picks up Sudfeld to offset some of that $2 million on the team’s books.

2. Undrafted rookie runs through the hole

The 49ers have a knack for finding undrafted running backs. In fact, three different undrafted players have led the 49ers in rushing over the past five seasons.

Perhaps, at some point, Jordan Mason of Georgia Tech can add his name to that list.

The 49ers went heavy on running backs with JaMycal Hasty being the only one to receive bad news. The 49ers kept halfbacks Elijah Mitchell, Jeff Wilson Jr., Ty Davis-Price, Trey Sermon and Mason on the 53-man roster.

Mason took advantage of his opportunities to the point that the 49ers did not want to take any chances of losing him to the waiver wire. He led the 49ers in rushing during the preseason with 94 yards and a 4.9 average.

3 Final spot on O-line goes to . . .

Guard Jason Poe, an undrafted rookie from Mercer, attracted a lot of attention in the offseason and during training camp.

At one point, it was not too much of a stretch to think Poe could somehow compete for a starting job. But when it came time for the 49ers to keep a ninth offensive lineman, it was a big “no” for Poe.

Draft pick Nick Zakelj of Fordham did not get much attention during camp. But the sixth-round draft pick proved enough for the decision-makers to nail down the final spot among the team’s offensive linemen.

4. Throw the odd-man-out

The 49ers’ defensive line was deep. Some difficult decisions have to be made.

Defensive end Kemoko Turay came to the 49ers this offseason after registering 5.5 sacks with the Indianapolis Colts last season.

Of the players in camp with the 49ers this summer, only Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead picked up more sacks during the 2021 season.

Yet, Turay did not win a spot on the 49ers’ season-opening roster. The 49ers ultimately decided to carry 10 defensive linemen.

Defensive end Jordan Willis was also on the 49ers’ cut list on Tuesday, but the club and Willis agreed to reunite on Wednesday.

Willis and tight end Tyler Kroft have agreed to re-sign with the 49ers after safety Jimmie Ward (hamstring) and linebacker Curtis Robinson (ankle) were placed on injured reserve.

5. One of nine picks gets cut

Two of the 49ers’ nine draft picks will not open the season on the 53-man roster. The 49ers placed defensive tackle Kalia Davis (knee) on the non-football injury list last week, and is likely headed toward a redshirt year.

The only draft pick who was waived on Tuesday was cornerback Tariq Castro-Fields, whom the 49ers selected out of Penn State in the sixth round.

Castro-Fields has good size, but he needs to work to get stronger in order to compete at the next level. He could be a prime candidate to return to the 49ers’ practice squad if he clears waivers.

RELATED: Check out the 49ers’ initial 53-man roster for the 2022 season

Another defensive back to keep an eye on is Dontae Johnson, who was also cut on Tuesday. Johnson has been signed and released so often, there’s not enough time in the day to provide an accurate count.

The biggest shock would be if Johnson doesn’t make another appearance with the 49ers at some point down the road.

Download and follow the 49ers Talk Podcast

Leave a Comment