The first cuts: Why they are gone

The 49ers released 12 players on Monday at the NFL's first summer roster cutdown, and here's a look at why each of those individuals are no longer with the team.

WR Joe Hastings: The speedy Hastings made an impression last year with the 49ers as an undrafted free agent and was asked back to the team's practice squad, where he spent the entire 2011 season before being elevated to the 53-man roster for the final regular-season game and playoffs. Hastings gained attention throughout the season with his sure hands on the scout team, but his days were numbered after the 49ers brought in a slew of new receivers during the offseason. Hastings saw other young undrafted rookies who were in Hastings' situation last year move past him during the summer, and he did not see a pass come his way in limited playing time during the preseason. Meanwhile, undrafted rookie free agents Nathan Palmer (three receptions in first two preseason games) and Chris Owusu (team-leading four receptions through first two preseason games) were more impressing than Hastings during both training camp and exhibition games, and the 49ers decided to keep them around for a longer look before Friday's final roster cutdown.

DB Cory Nelms: Nelms actually looked like a better player in 2012 than he was in 2011, when he was released at the final roster cutdown and immediately signed back to San Francisco's practice squad, where he spent the entire 2011 season. Nelms was too slow to stay with front-line NFL receivers on the corner, so the team gave him a look this year at safety, where he showed good ball recognition. But he fell behind holdover veteran Colin Jones and rookies Trenton Robinson and Michael Thomas in the battle for the No. 4 safety role behind starters Dashon Goldson and Donte Whitner and No. 3 C.J. Spillman. Since the team already had decided he wasn't going to make the final roster, the 49ers opted to release Nelms early to give him a better chance to catch on with another team.

K Giorgio Tavecchio: The Italian product from the University of California had virtually no chance of making the final roster – not with All-Pro kicker David Akers, one of San Francisco's most indispensable players, in front of him – but he made quite an impression during the preseason with his booming kickoffs, several of which went out of the back of the end zone. Tavecchio ultimately proved to be more than just a camp leg, and he made good on all three of his opportunities as a place-kicker in San Francisco's preseason opener – including a 29-yard field goal that provided the final points in San Francisco's 17-6 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.

WR Brian Tyms: The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Tyms made quite an impression this summer with his size and ability to get open and catch the football. The undrafted rookie free agent from Florida A&M got plenty of film time during the first two preseason games, when he recorded three receptions for 32 yards. He had performed well enough during the summer to keep around for a longer look, but the team felt that Palmer and Owusu were better young prospects for their practice squad as bottom-depth receivers.

WR Ben Hannula: The 6-foot-2, 206-pound product, who also can play defensive back, has nice size and some NFL experience after spending time on the New York Giants' practice squad in 2010. He saw two passes come his way in the fourth quarter of San Francisco's preseason opener against the Vikings, and he pulled in one of them for a nice 22-yard gain from Josh Johnson – one of San Francisco's biggest offensive plays of the game. But that was not a sign of things to come for Hannula as his playing time decreased to the point that he did not play a snap in Sunday's third preseason game against the Broncos. Hannula was simply buried on a depth chart that saw at least 11 other individuals ahead of him in the eyes of coaches.

OL Jason Slowey: The 49ers used a sixth-round draft pick to select Slowey in the NFL draft back in April, and draft picks usually get a long look from this team – only one of San Francisco's 18 draft picks over the previous two seasons failed to make the team coming out of their rookie training camp. But Slowey simply didn't show the 49ers enough to keep him around with several of their young developmental linemen much farther ahead of him. Slowey struggled with the power and speed of NFL linemen and the major step up in competition after starring in college at Western Oregon. Slowey played tackle in college, but the Niners envisioned him fitting in as a backup center to veteran Jonathan Goodwin. That prospect never materialized, and after the team moved guard Daniel Kilgore in as Goodwin's backup this summer, Slowey's chances of sticking with the 49ers decreased even further. Slowey entered last week's game fourth on the depth chart behind Goodwin, Kilgore and Chase Beeler – an indication his days with the team were numbered.

DT Matthew Masifilo: The Stanford product was one of the first undrafted rookies to sign with the 49ers this spring as he was introduced in the team's media trailer just hours after the April draft had been completed. The Niners' coaching staff new Masifilo from their days together at Stanford and were quick to give him a shot at the NFL and a chance to get on game film. The 6-foot-3, 280-pound product was far from overwhelmed with the NFL level of competition, but he was buried on the depth chart behind more experienced linemen and entered the summer with little chance to make the final roster.

CB Deante' Purvis: The UNLV product got a good look in camp, but his look ended there with the team needing to focus in this week on its battle for the No. 4 cornerback role between Tramaine Brock and Perrish Cox. Purvis wasn't going to push ahead of either of those two veterans in that battle.

FB Cameron Bell: The 252-pound product of Northern Illinois actually looked pretty good as a blocking fullback this summer, but there is no way the 49ers have room for two fullbacks on their final roster, and the unquestioned lead role at the position belongs to young veteran Bruce Miller.

TE Joe Sawyer: The rookie product from Southwestern Oklahoma State was signed to a three-year deal on Aug. 13, but he had little time with the team to make an impression. Buried seventh on the depth chart behind six other tight ends, Sawyer never had a chance to catch up.

OLB Kourtnei Brown: The undrafted free agent rookie from Clemson had the size and athleticism the 49ers are looking for on the edge at 6-foot-6 and 255 pounds, but he ultimately was too raw a product to be considered for a further look with the team needing to hone in on its final candidates for the No. 4 role behind Ahmad Brooks, Aldon Smith and Parys Haralson.

DT Patrick Butrym: Like Masifilo, Butrym was buried at the bottom of the depth chart behind more experienced defensive linemen. The undrafted rookie from Wisconsin didn't have the size or skill level at this point to keep up.

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