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Three Surprises From The 49ers 53-Man Roster

The San Francisco 49ers made some surprising and questionable depth chart decisions when cutting their deep roster down to 53 players. Here are three surprises from the final cuts.

The 49ers Waive Their Third-Round Pick From 2021

It felt like the 49ers had six or seven running backs on Tuesday when including fullback Kyle Juszczyk and “wide back” Deebo Samuel. Nonetheless, the Niners are keeping four of them and the two who did not make the roster were 25-year-old JaMycal Hasty and second-year RB Trey Sermon.

It seemed as if the 49ers were about to keep five running backs when they initially cut the roster down to 53 on Tuesday. Keeping that amount of running backs would have been shocking because of the carry distribution. It was unlikely the Niners would use all five regularly. When trying to think of why San Francisco elected to keep a whole handful of guys in the backfield, it seemed potentially political.

However, the very next day the 49ers decided to waive Trey Sermon in a move that some may have anticipated, yet was still surprising. In 2021, San Francisco traded away two fourth-round picks to the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for the 88th pick in the NFL Draft to select RB Trey Sermon. To follow that act a year later, the Niners selected Tyrion Davis-Price 93rd overall in the 2022 NFL Draft. After spending third-round picks in consecutive seasons on the same position, neither one of those selections seemed to be any higher than the third running back on the depth chart.

Undrafted free agent RB Jordan Mason shined throughout training camp and the preseason. Mason was Pro Football Focus’ top-graded running back for the first two weeks of the preseason grading out at 93.3 following the Niners’ victory over the Minnesota Vikings and he finished the preseason with a grade of 84.4. While the 49ers didn’t invest any draft capital into him, Mason was simply too good to not make the cut.

Trey Sermon and Tyrion Davis-Price didn’t separate themselves enough from the rest of the group to make a compelling case as the next half-back on the depth chart behind starter Elijah Mitchell. It would’ve looked foolish to cut Davis-Price considering he is a third-round rookie and some fans can’t help but feel as if the team made a mistake in trading up to draft Sermon considering even with an extra year of experience, he was still outplayed by a couple of rookies.

Its possible Sermon could clear waivers and end up on the 49ers’ practice squad. Either way, it’s encouraging to know the front office prioritized player production over politics.

49ers Fan Favorite Undrafted Free Agent Is Waived At A Position Of Need

The Niners signed interior offensive lineman Jason Poe from Mercer as an undrafted free agent this off-season, but the team decided to waive him on Tuesday. There was hope among the fanbase that Poe could ride the bench this year as a depth piece and develop into a starter in the future on what is currently a questionable offensive line.

The agile 24-year-old has also had prior experience playing fullback in community college and anybody could be led to believe that versatility played a factor in Shanahan wanting to bring in Poe. While it seems fun to have a 300-pound ball carrier, the Niners certainly don’t have room for a sixth potential running back. However, one of the biggest questions about this offensive line is the center position. With Jake Brendel stepping in, San Francisco doesn’t have a proven commodity in that spot nor do they have a clear long-term answer to pair with second-year quarterback Trey Lance.

Luckily for the Niners, Poe cleared waivers and will sign with the 49ers’ practice squad, per Matt Barrows. Maybe the youngster will develop into a future interior starter in the trenches for San Francisco.

Brand New Free Agent Signing Doesn’t Make The Cut At A Prime Position

This was a move that came off as a head-scratcher. The 49ers cut a proven edge rusher in Kemoko Turay who they just signed in free agency this off-season. After playing last season with the Indianapolis Colts, Turay seems to have lost the final spot on the opposite side of Nick Bosa to Kerry Hyder Jr. who is four years older than Turay.

The Turay signing had fans excited about the added depth to what was already a stacked defensive line. Interestingly, they let Turay go instead Hyder. One idea is that the Niners may be looking to use Kerry Hyder Jr. on the interior in certain situations which could expand the roles of Samson Ebukam, Charles Omenihu and rookie standout Drake Jackson.

Yet, it was announced shortly after the Trey Sermon news that Kemoko Turay would be signing with the Niners practice squad. This is also shocking considering Turay is talented and proven enough to have found a new home with a roster spot. It feels like the 49ers must’ve pre-arranged something here because valuable edge rushers don’t grow on trees.

Regardless, this was a decision most people probably did not see coming. Then again the 49ers are always full of surprises when it comes to their roster especially considering the day before final cuts they restructured QB Jimmy Garoppolo to retain him as a backup after failing to find a trade partner. Even though Garoppolo said his goodbyes to the fanbase during a press conference in February.

The regular season hasn’t started yet and the 49ers are already making jaws drop. San Francisco has one of the best rosters in the NFL and in totality is good enough to contend for a Lombardi Trophy this season. It will be interesting to see if any of these decisions come back to bite them or have a huge payoff down the road.

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