In a surprising move, the San Francisco 49ers — who need offensive linemen — cut 2016 Pro Bowl lineman Jeremy Zuttah days before the Niners’ first preseason game.
The San Francisco 49ers already lost one potential starting lineman to injury in the last week.
Today they released another, as reported by Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area:
Earlier today, the 49ers cut center Jeremy Zuttah — who played for the AFC in the 2016 Pro Bowl. The 49ers obtained Zuttah earlier this year via a trade with the Baltimore Ravens.
Zuttah was originally drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the third round of the 2008 NFL Draft, before being traded to the Ravens in 2014.
Zuttah was expected to win the 49ers’ starting center job, but the team’s 2016 starting center Daniel Kilgore outplayed Zuttah during training camp, as was reflected in the 49ers’ first depth chart released to the media on Monday:
In addition to the 49ers’ 2017 trade for Zuttah — as well as Zuttah’s recent accolades — the roster move is particularly surprising due to Kilgore’s extensive injury history:
One beneficiary of the transaction is free-agent newcomer Tim Barnes. Barnes, who can play both center and guard, appears primed to win the backup center job thanks to his recent work with the 49ers’ first team, as reported by Chris Biderman of USA Today:
Zuttah this week was passed over for first-team work by veteran Tim Barnes while presumptive starting center Daniel Kilgore received work at left guard. -Chris Biderman
When the 49ers cut wide receiver Bruce Ellington last week, head coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters that he released Ellington early in the offseason in order to allow the receiver the opportunity to find a new team. Given the fact that Zuttah has trade value, the 49ers likely released him for other reasons.
As the San Francisco 49ers are still in need of offensive lineman, expect the team to actively pursue available linemen who hit the open market.