The San Francisco 49ers made nine initial cuts on Friday ahead of the roster cut-down period. But which of the moves made was ultimately the most surprising?
The San Francisco 49ers are just over a week away from kicking off their 2019 season. After a disappointing 2018 that saw the team finish with just four wins, there is plenty of optimism surrounding the upcoming campaign.
Jimmy Garoppolo is back under center, the skill position group on offense looks revamped, and the team’s defensive line is looking like one of the best in the league.
But before we could reach the ever-exciting first game of the season, the 49ers must first perform the unenviable task of cutting their roster down to 53 players from the 90 it was at in the preseason.
The official deadline for such roster cuts is 4 p.m. ET on Saturday. However, the team got a head start on some of these moves on Friday making nine cuts in total.
Many of the players released were back-of-the-roster-caliber players who weren’t ever really considered viable 53-man candidates, to begin with. However, that doesn’t mean that these players can’t still be a part of the organization in some fashion.
Some of those released/waived on Friday could be candidates for the team’s practice squad at the start of the season. Perhaps the most likely candidate for such a role would be tight end Tyree Mayfield.
Mayfield, unfortunately, fell victim to the numbers game and was caught in quite the logjam at the tight end position. But the Wyoming product still put together a solid summer and could make for an intriguing developmental project.
At 6-foot-3 and 242 pounds, Mayfield has solid size for his potion if only a tad undersized. But what really makes him stand out is his scorching downfield speed.
Mayfield ran an impressive 4.59 40-yard dash at his pro day and with a bit more development could make for an exciting addition to the 49ers offense.
But even though Mayfield would make for an interesting practice squad candidate, his release didn’t exactly come as a surprise. And neither did some of the team’s other low-profile cuts such as defensive backs Christian Campbell and Jordan Holland.
Veteran defensive lineman Jay Bromley put together an impressive summer but his release wasn’t exactly surprising either given the team’s depth at the position.
Cornerback Dontae Johnson had been a starter for the team in the past but after a year away from San Francisco, his days were as numbered as they were when he initially departed the team back in 2018.
That leaves one final player, offensive tackle Sam Young.
Following a preseason injury to the newly-acquired Shon Coleman, it was widely expected that the veteran Young would serve as the team’s primary swing tackle. Young himself was a newcomer having spent the last nine seasons bouncing around the NFL.
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The 32-year-old last played for the Miami Dolphins and was definitely less-than-stellar in his partial playing time down in South Beach. But given his NFL experience — 88 career games, 21 starts — his spot on the roster appeared to be safe.
However, the 49ers decided to release Young on Friday seemingly giving the top swing tackle job to rookie sixth-round pick Justin Skule. Skule struggled in the preseason but was obviously the younger option at the position.
The 49ers will be looking to develop Skule for the time being, but they may have just gotten a bit weaker at the backup tackle spot. The hope is that neither Joe Staley or Mike McGlinchey run into any injury issues in 2019 so that Skule isn’t forced into any unfavorable situations.
There will likely be some more surprises to come on Saturday. But after the first round of cuts on Friday, Young’s was definitely the most surprising of the bunch.