First roster shakeup complete

The Niners released their leading preseason tackler on Tuesday, brought back a defensive tackle they originally had put on waivers two days ago, then practiced in the morning without quarterback Jeff Garcia, whose back is acting up again.

Garcia's back became stiff during the Niners' public practice Monday night at chilly Kezar Stadium in San Francisco. Coach Dennis Erickson said it was nothing serious nor something to worry about.

"He could have practiced," Erickson said. "I told him not to practice. His back is a little sore. It tightened up a little bit last night. It's just a precautionary thing."

REESE RELEASED: Linebacker Marcus Reese, an undrafted free agent from UCLA, was waived early Tuesday to make room on the roster for the Niners to bring back defensive tackle Dwight Johnson.

Reese had had a fine training camp and recorded a game-high eight tackles on Saturday in San Francisco's 27-12 exhibition victory over New Orleans. Through three preseason games, Reese was tied with tackle Anthony Adams for the team lead with 14 tackles.

But it wasn't enough to save his job. Linebacker might be the deepest area of the team and, with second-year man Saleem Rasheed now back in action after an extended layoff due to a hamstring injury, the Niners had to cut a linebacker to get down to the NFL-mandated 65-player limit.

JOHNSON BACK ON TEAM FOR ONE PRACTICE: Reese was released because the Niners - after the NFL suspension of Josh Shaw - are short on defensive tackles with Friday's final preseason game against San Diego looming.

So the Niners brought back Johnson, who was among the eight cuts that the team announced Sunday evening.

"We're a little short at tackle," Erickson said. "Because of our situation (on the) defensive front going into this game, we decided to keep Dwight Johnson and let Marcus Reese go."

Because the Niners had announced their first cuts early - the actual deadline to get down to the 65-man roster was 1 p.m. Tuesday - Johnson hadn't actually been put on waivers before the team did its final roster maneuvering.

But by the time the Niners had completed that maneuvering Tuesday, Johnson had been released. After Johnson practiced with the team in the morning, the Niners opted to waive him and pick up third-year NFL veteran John Nix, a 6-foot-1, 313-pound defensive tackle who had recently been put on waivers by the Dallas Cowboys.

YOUTH OVER VETERANS: Among the players the Niners waived Monday to get down to the 65-player limit were veterans Fred Weary, Scott Frost, DeMingo Graham, Byron Frisch and Jace Sayler. The team also released undrafted rookie free agent Ben Archibald.

Weary was the most surprising cut, since the team is running thin at cornerback. But Weary, after a strong showing at the start of camp, had not been sustaining that kind of performance and the Niners opted to take a longer look instead at youngsters Antuan Simmons and Joselio Hanson.

Frost, at safety, and Frisch, at defensive end, both got caught in a numbers game at their respective positions even though both had displayed some veteran savvy during the preseason. Frisch led the Niners with two preseason sacks and Frost had six tackles defensively and was the team leader in special teams tackles with four.

But there was no room for Frisch after the Niners signed end Chidi Ahanotu last week, and the team opted to keep Dwaine Carpenter over Frost.

Graham and Archibald could not distinguish themselves among the reserves at offensive line, where the Niners may keep only three to back up their starters. Versatile tackles Kwame Harris and Kyle Kosier are assured of two of those spots, which means the Niners are looking for someone who can play center for one of the other berths. Neither Graham or Archibald did.

BACK AND FORTH: Receiver Tai Streets, who missed the past week with a groin pull, returned to practice Tuesday but left early because "he was getting tired out there," Erickson said. ... Rookie receiver Arnaz Battle, who also is nursing a groin injury that has kept him out since the Aug. 14 Oakland game, made it through a full practice in his first day back. ... Tailback Kevan Barlow, out since last week with a right hamstring injury, is expected to return to practice at some point this week.

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