The San Francisco 49ers are expected to trim fat from the roster by cutting players drafted by former general manager Trent Baalke. While any front office transition is expected to correspond with significant personnel change, John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan haven’t yet made substantial cuts to Baalke’s former draft picks. But according to recent speculation from NFL media analysts, that’s about to change.
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According to Eric Branch’s projections, the 49ers may cut the following players who were hand-picked by Baalke: WRs Bruce Ellingtion, Aaron Burbridge and DeAndre Smelter, TEs Vance McDonald and Blake Bell, DTs Tank Carradine and Ronald Blair, OT John Theus, OLB Eli Harold and CB Prince Charles Iworah. And a very surprising report from Gregg Rosenthal on the Around the NFL podcast: RB Carlos Hyde could be a surprise training camp cut.
Aaron Burbridge and DeAndre Smelter haven’t shown the talent or promise of being NFL roster-worthy. Though Bruce Ellington is healthy, he is expendable with Jeremy Kerley and Trent Taylor at slot receiver. Considering the influx of free agents at this position and how poorly the 49ers receivers were in 2016, it’s understandable why there are likely to be significant changes to this position group.
Vance McDonald’s days seem to have been numbered from the moment John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan took over the 49ers front office. We have previously discussed how George Kittle has been rising since he was drafted and how Cole Hikutini has been creating some buzz at the TE position. Blake Bell was a 4th round draft pick in 2015 but hasn’t shown much in his playing time and is not likely to make the final roster.
Tank Carradine failed to live up to his promise as a second round pick, showing very little production during his tenure thus far. Ronald Blair was drafted in the 5th round of 2016 and has had less of a chance to develop or display his ability, so it may be a bit early to speculate on his worthiness of being on this roster.
Eli Harold was a 3rd round pick in the 2015 draft and has yet to demonstrate a consistent ability to generate a pass rush. But with Ahmad Brooks aging and Aaron Lynch reportedly being overweight, the 49ers new front office might kick the tires on Harold for another season while also contemplating younger options such as Pita Taumoepenu.
John Theus was described as a reach in the 5th round of the 2016 draft. He was able to get into four games during his rookie season and did not perform particularly well, posting a 28.4 overall grade according to Pro Football Focus. Considering the 49ers signed Garry Gilliam during the off season, Theus appears to have very little chance of making the 49ers active roster in 2017.
Prince Charles Iworah was drafted in the 7th round of the 2016 draft and was released prior to the start of the 2016 season, later signing on the practice squad and being promoted to the active roster in December. If Prince barely made the active roster in 2016, he faces even greater odds with a new front office and a bevy of other cornerbacks, including recently drafted Akhello Witherspoon and Adrian Colbert, as competition.
Last but not least, one of the most shocking speculations is the report that RB Carlos Hyde could be a surprise cut at training camp. Hyde was drafted in the 2nd round in 2014 and has shown some of the most production at an offensive skilled position for the 49ers in the past few years (and yes, this may not be saying much). But when one considers that Hyde might not be an optimal fit for Shanahan’s offensive system, taken together with Shanahan’s deep affection for Joe Williams and Hyde’s injury history, it’s not out of the realm of possibility.