The 49ers first summer cuts: Why they're gone

The 49ers made their first roster cuts of the Jim Harbaugh era on Tuesday morning, trimming their summer squad by seven players to get down to the NFL-mandated limit of 80 plays. Here's a look at each of the seven individuals waived and why they no longer are 49ers.

LB Scott McKillop: As NinersDigest predicted on Monday, the third-year veteran was one of the first to go on Tuesday because of his late start this summer and the fact he no longer fit into San Francisco's plans. The 49ers were basically auditioning McKillop for the rest of the league and giving him extended time on film Saturday against the Houston Texans, when McKillop finished with a game-high seven tackles and also had another stop on special teams. Releasing McKillop now gives him a head start over other soon-to-be waived players to catch on with another NFL team. The Niners' handling of McKillop all summer suggested he was no longer in the team's plans, from holding him out of a stretch of training camp practices even when McKillop felt he was good to go to his name curiously showing up on a transaction list on earlier this month that indicated McKillop had been released by the team. McKillop, San Francisco's fifth-round draft pick in 2009, led the 49ers with 31 special teams tackles as a rookie and showed promise to be an ace on those units for years to come and a contributor on defense. But McKillop suffered a severe knee injury in training camp last year and never got back to full strength by the time summer camp began this year. He fell behind young veterans Larry Grant and Keaton Kristick this summer for the backup roles at inside linebacker behind Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman, and the Niners obviously feel more comfortable with those players going forward at the position. Inside linebackers Blake Costanzo and Alex Joseph also made it to the final cut ahead of McKillop.

WR Kevin Jurovich: Jurovich made an impression last year after catching on with San Francisco's practice squad, and he was active in player-organized workouts during the NFL lockout at San Jose State, his alma mater. But Jurovich found himself buried on the depth chart this summer and was listed as the fourth-string split end on the team's most recent chart released Aug. 23. He had one catch for 17 yards in the exhibition season opener at New Orleans but dropped the only pass thrown his way in a game since then Saturday against the Texans. He still has practice-squad eligibility remaining and could return to the 49ers in that capacity after Saturday's final cuts, considering Jurovich seemed to be ahead of some of the other young unproven wideouts the 49ers will keep around to the end of this week.

WR Tyler Beiler: The undrafted rookie from Bridgewater looked good at times in training camp but found himself in a numbers game at receiver, where he was listed on the latest depth chart as the fifth-string flanker. He didn't get many opportunities to show his stuff in exhibition games and did not have a ball thrown his way during the preseason. Beiler is practice-squad eligible.

P Sam Paulescu: Paulescu's release indicates that Andy Lee's hip injury wasn't serious after all and the two-time Pro Bowler will be back as San Francisco's punter for Thursday's preseason finale at San Diego. Paulescu, who has a 42.2 career average in 20 games with four NFL teams, acquitted himself very well in his only game as a 49er, averaging 50.0 yards on eight punts Saturday amid the tricky conditions at Candlestick Park, including a 61-yard boomer. That should further help his cause when and if another NFL team comes calling, like the 49ers did after Lee was hurt on Aug. 20.

G Nick Howell: The USC product, who ended last season on San Francisco's practice squad, got off to a good start in training camp when he was given snaps with the first-unit offense in the opening practice sessions of the summer. But that wasn't an indication of where he'd be once the full squad began practicing together, and Howell found himself third on the depth chart behind Mike Iupati and fifth-round draft pick Daniel Kilgore at left guard and never could work his way up. He remains practice-squad eligible.

OT Donovan Edwards: The undrafted rookie from California was third on the depth chart at left tackle behind Joe Staley and Alex Boone and needs to improve his strength and technique to have a shot at sticking at the pro level. He is practice-squad eligible.

RB Seth Smith: The undrafted rookie from New Mexico State was the forgotten man at halfback this summer as the 49ers gave most of the work and attention to players ahead of him on the depth chart. Smith was the only halfback on San Francisco's summer roster not to carry the football during the first three preseason games as the Niners divided carries between Anthony Dixon, Kendall Hunter and Xavier Omon at the position behind starter Frank Gore.

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