Safety John Keith was placed on injured reserve by the 49ers on Wednesday,

ending his second season with the team before it really even began.

Keith tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during the opening kickoff of the team's 16-13 season-opening victory over Atlanta. It was his first play back since his promising rookie season also was ended on a kickoff. Keith broke the tibia and ulna in his right arm during the opening kickoff to begin overtime last Oct. 8 in a 34-28 loss to the Oakland Raiders.

"There's just no way he's going to be able to play this year," Niners coach Steve Mariucci said on Wednesday.

On Monday, Mariucci indicated the team would wait until after Keith had surgery on his knee Thursday to make a decision. The salary-cap strapped Niners also were considering keeping Keith on the roster with the possibility he'd be able to return late in the season, since his salary would count against the cap anyway if he went on injured reserve.

But the Niners were able to clear some cap room Wednesday by waiving second-year quarterback Kevin Daft and third-year cornerback Jason Suttle, both of whom joined the team last week.

The team then signed safety Al Blades, cornerback George McCullough and quarterback Ricky Ray to the 53-man roster. It was the third time Blades - a rookie from Miami - was signed to the squad this year. He was cut last week, resigned to the practice squad, and then cut again before the Atlanta game. McCullough is a fourth-year player who spent parts of four seasons with the Tennessee Titans before signing a two-year contract this year with the Kansas City Chiefs. He did not make Kansas City's final roster.

Ray was with the Niners in training camp, and was brought back mainly because of his rookie salary and the knowledge of San Francisco's system he picked up during his three weeks with the team this summer.

Niners Digest Top Stories