NFL rosters are now at 53 players, and the San Francisco 49ers were also forced to make some tough decisions regarding who would stay and go. Most of the cuts made sense, but Niner Noise looks at the five biggest roster-cut mistakes the team made.
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Aug 20, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Bryce Treggs (1) makes a catch in the second quarter against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Roster cuts are never an easy period on the NFL calendar.
Aug 20, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; San Francisco 49ers tight end Devon Cajuste (86) makes a catch against Denver Broncos cornerback John Tidwell (45) during the third quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The 49ers beat the Broncos 31-24. Mandatory Credit: Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports
No. 5: Waiving Wide Receiver Devon Cajuste
The 49ers signed former Stanford wide receiver Devon Cajuste as an undrafted free agent. The 6-foot-4, 227-pound wideout was a proven red-zone threat in college.
Considering the Niners’ woes in this area over the last few years, head coach Chip Kelly could have used a player of Cajuste’s stature.
Granted, Cajuste didn’t make much of an impact during the preseason. He did have one catch for 40 yards though, and his hands were certainly something of note.
But the Niners didn’t keep him on the roster. And the team still has plenty of questions at wide receiver.
As such, the 49ers released Cajuste and did not place him on their practice squad.
Aug 14, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Bryce Treggs (1) warms up before the game against the Houston Texans at Levi’s Stadium. Houston defeated San Francisco 24-13. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports
No. 4: Waiving Wide Receiver Bryce Treggs
Former Cal standout receiver Bryce Treggs enjoyed one of the better training camps out of all San Francisco wideouts.
The UDFA did injure himself during the preseason, but the 49ers had plans to keep him on the practice squad. Unfortunately for San Francisco, the Philadelphia Eagles picked him up before he could clear waivers, per Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee.
The Niners have more than a few questions at wide receiver entering this season. So the decision not to retain Treggs is a little confusing.
I don't think the #49ers realize they won't be good this year. Arguably the best WR w/eye towards future was Bryce Treggs. Let him go.
Aug 20, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Dres Anderson (17) scores a touch down against Denver Broncos defensive back John Tidwell (45) in the fourth quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The 49ers defeated the Broncos 31-24. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
No. 3: Placing Wide Receiver Dres Anderson on Practice Squad
OK, so the 49ers lucked out by getting second-year wideout Dres Anderson onto the practice squad — a move first reported by CSN Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco.
Anderson was one of the Niners’ bigger standouts during the preseason. He hauled in a 30-yard touchdown grab versus the Denver Broncos in Week 2 of the preseason. And he also helped set up another end-zone score with a physical catch from quarterback Colin Kaepernick at the goal line against the San Diego Chargers.
Sep 1, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Christian Ponder (5) runs in for a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
No. 2: Keeping Quarterback Christian Ponder over Rookie Jeff Driskel
Quarterback Christian Ponder’s return to the NFL is a good story. To think he went from painting his house to being on a 53-man roster in just a few weeks is pretty remarkable.
But it also stunts any growth the 49ers might have hoped for with their sixth-round pick of the 2016 NFL Draft, Jeff Driskel.
Driskel ended up being waived. Shortly thereafter, the Cincinnati Bengals claimed him off waivers.
Beyond excited to be apart of the @Bengals organization. Can't wait to get to work. Also would like to thank @49ers for the opportunity.
CSN Authentic’s Dylan DeSimone said it best — we have an idea of Ponder’s ceiling at this point. While yet to be determined, Driskel could be a rising talent simply in need of a year or two of development at the NFL level.
San Francisco’s quarterbacks — Blaine Gabbert, Colin Kaepernick and Ponder — don’t exactly inspire a lot of confidence moving forward.
In all likelihood, the 49ers will be looking for a quarterback again this upcoming offseason.
Dec 20, 2014; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers center Dec 20, 2014; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers center Marcus Martin (66) greets fans before entering the field before the game against the San Diego Chargers at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports
No. 1: Using a Roster Spot on Center Marcus Martin
This one was a major head-scratcher.
Center Marcus Martin — the same guy who posted a minus-45.6 overall grade last year, per Pro Football Focus (subscription required) — will be on San Francisco’s 53-man roster this year.
The 49ers had been working with guard Zane Beadles at center, which led one to believe the team would be moving from Martin after two disappointing seasons.
Just take a look at this following play. Never mind quarterback Christian Ponder scoring the touchdown. Just watch Martin at center:
Perhaps Beadles wasn’t picking up snapping duties. Still, keeping Martin doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.
This could have been a roster spot used on pass-rushing linebacker Marcus Rush who, at least, made it to the Niners practice squad. San Francisco needs pass-rushing help to start the season. While Rush’s run-stopping abilities aren’t the best, a situational pass-rusher would help a lot.