Safety in, safety out; Randall released

Meet Erik Totten, the newest member of the San Francisco secondary, after the 49ers signed one young free-agent safety and released another. In a surprise move Wednesday, the Niners also released veteran tackle Greg Randall, who didn't perform up to what the Niners thought they were getting when they signed him to a free-agent contract in April.

When Randall agreed to contract terms in April, it was believed he might have an opportunity to start at the Niners' open right guard position. He came to San Francisco with 42 career NFL starts, having started all 16 games at right tackle for the Houston Texans last season.

But when Randall reported to the team in May overweight and out of shape, the Niners knew that plan wasn't going to work and they worked Randall primarily at right tackle behind starter Scott Gragg.

Randall displayed some decent footwork during spring minicamps but the team obviously was disappointed about his weight, which was believed to be in the 340- to 350-pound range. The team believed he would have been in the 325-pound range by training camp to be effective.

With other young players emerging, and versatile Kyle Kosier having the ability to be a top backup at tackle - where San Francisco ultimately would like to have him play - the Niners decided to release Randall now to give the fifth-year veteran an opportunity to catch on with another team before training camp.

Totten was signed by the Niners after the team parted ways with Lawrence Turner, an undrafted rookie free agent who played previously for Niners coach Dennis Erickson at Oregon State University.

Totten, who played with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2002, also has connections to a 49ers coach. Willy Robinson, San Francisco's new defensive coordinator, was Pittsburgh's secondary coach when Totten made the team as an undrafted rookie out of Western Washington University.

"He's not the biggest or the fastest guy for the position in the league," Robinson said when both were with the Steelers. "But he loves to strike people, he has a great work ethic and he's serious about the game." The 5-foot-9, 194-pound Totten was an All-American at Western Washington as both a defensive back and a kick returner, a role in which he might also get a look with the 49ers.

Totten set school records in college for career return attempts and yardage in both punt returns and kickoff returns.

Totten did not play in the NFL last season. He began the 2002 season, his rookie year, on Pittsburgh's practice squad but was elevated to the 53-man roster in November and was active for two games. He also was on the active roster for Pittsburgh's AFC playoff against Tennessee, but he did not appear in that game.

Turner, a 5-10, 199-pound product, was signed earlier this spring to see if he might have an opportunity to challenge for a backup position during training camp.

But Turner never could work his way past other young candidates in the San Francisco secondary and was receiving limited opportunities by the conclusion of the team's final spring minicamp last week.

San Francisco also released second-year kicker Danny Boyd on Wednesday, though Boyd was solid throughout the spring. The Niners, who now have 96 players on their spring roster, including NFL Europe exemptions, still must release nine more players before training camp begins July 30.

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