Josh Johnson lost his bid to be the 49ers' third QB
The San Francisco 49ers trimmed their roster down to the 53-man opening day limit.
In addition to Colin Jones, who was traded to the Carolina Panthers, the 49ers released QB Josh Johnson, WR Nathan Palmer, WR, Chris Owusu, WR Brett Swain, RB Rock Cartwright, TE Kyle Nelson, TE Konrad Reuland, OL Al Netter, OL Kenny Wiggins, OL Derek Hall, OL Mike Person, DT Tony Jerod-Eddie, DT Matt Masifilo, LB Cam Johnson, LB Eric Bakhtiari, LB Michael Wilhoite, LB Kenny Rowe, LB Joe Holland, LB Ikaika Alama-Francis, S Michael Thomas and CB Anthony Mosley.
Most of the cuts were not a surprise. Only Cam Johnson and offensive lineman Jason Slowey were casualties from the 2012 draft. Person was a 2011 49ers' draftee.
There were, however, three moves that surprised me and which could, I believe, end up haunting the 49ers. First, quarterback Josh Johnson was cut and Scott Tolzien was kept. Early in the preseason, Tolzien was ahead of Johnson, but Johnson came on strong towards the end.
Johnson finished the preseason with a passer rating of 115.3, while Tolzien was at only 41.9. Johnson also has four years of prior NFL experience as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tolzein was on the 49ers' practice squad last year.
I was also more impressed with Johnson's mobility and arm strength than I was with Tolzien's. Given that Johnson had played under head coach Jim Harbaugh at the University of San Diego, he was also familiar with Harbaugh's system.
Hopefully, the third quarterback never has to see action, but if he does, I would feel much more comfortable with Johnson under center than Tolzein. As a veteran, with a strong arm and excellent mobility, I believe Johnson would give the 49ers a better chance to win.
The other two players that were moved, who could come back to haunt the 49ers' coaching staff, were Rock Cartwright and Colin Jones. Both are standout special teams players.
Cartwright was signed as a free agent and his role looked to be that of a leader of the special teams, much like the role filled last year by Blake Costanzo. As a running back, Cartwright was beaten out by Anthony Dixon, who played very well.
However, I felt Cartwright should have stuck as a special teams performer.
The 49ers in essence kept four tight ends as Vernon Davis, Delanie Walker, Garrett Celek and Demarcus Dobbs were all retained. Dobbs also doubles as a reserve defensive lineman. I know Harbaugh loves to use tight ends in his offensive sets, but Celek's spot could have gone to Cartwright.
Jones was one of the fastest men on the team and excelled on special teams. He was most valuable as one of the "gunners" on the punt-coverage team. As a defensive back, he was a decent tackler, and his speed enabled him to beat blockers and get down the field to make a hit on the return man.
If the 49ers allow any long kickoff or punt returns, they will rue the day they decided to cut Cartwright and Jones. The coverage units were a strength of the 49ers in 2011. Hopefully special teams coach Brad Seely can put together another outstanding group. Not having Cartwright and Jones will make his job a lot tougher.
Nevertheless, the roster is a very fluid entity and injuries also play a huge role as the season unfolds. The 49ers are off to Green Bay for their season opener.
Let the real games begin!