Winborn leaves 49ers - team seeking trade for LB

In the latest shakeup at 49ers headquarters, fifth-year linebacker Jamie Winborn has left the team at the suggestion of coach Mike Nolan, who is attempting to work a trade for the energetic and charismatic defender who lost his starting job last week and apparently isn't willing to work within the team's new structure as a backup.

The 49ers practiced Wednesday without Winborn, whose nameplate already had been removed above his stall in the team locker room along with most of his personal possessions. When making the sudden announcement about Winborn's status Wednesday afternoon, Nolan stressed that it had nothing to do with disciplinary action by the team.

"This is not in any way – and I want to emphasize that – a reflection of anything that Jamie has done negatively," Nolan said. "Jamie has done nothing wrong. This is not a discipline thing. It is nothing like that."

Then what it is it, coach?

"Jamie has been relegated to a backup role for us," Nolan said. "Jamie sees himself as a starter, which I would tend to agree with him. He has those capabilities, and so I'm going to do whatever I can to accommodate those wishes. But at this time, they will not be here. In respect to that position, I'm certainly entertaining the thoughts of the possibility of a trade and those things."

Nolan made it sound like a trade involving Winborn was imminent and could take place as soon as late Wednesday.

When asked if he already was close to a deal, Nolan said, "There's talk going on, discussions."

Winborn, who began the season as a regular starter after the 49ers switched to a 3-4 defense this spring, started the first two games at right outside linebacker. An aggressive player, Winborn has been known in the past for undisciplined play and at times being caught out of position. The new coaching regime is all about assignments and playing within the scheme, and Winborn apparently wasn't fitting well into that system.

Winborn lost his starting job last week to Andre Carter, and then saw only sporadic action in Sunday's game against the Dallas Cowboys after starting left-side linebacker Julian Peterson left the contest with a strained hamstring. Winborn had 12 tackles through the first two games but finished with just two against the Cowboys.

Winborn's demotion "is really due to the good play of Andre Carter as well as Corey (Smith) more than anything else," Nolan said. "We've got some good young talent that's coming on. I want to continue to look at those guys, as we've done."

Winborn has been excused from the team until a deal is worked out to ship him elsewhere.

"But that is on his terms," Nolan said. "Because, if it was a disciplinary thing, then you can ask someone not to be here. I do not have the authority to tell someone they can't unless it's a disciplinary action. But this is not disciplinary, so all I've done is told him that I'm working that (trade possibility), and obviously don't want to get him injured in the case of another team having him. So he's not practicing because of that, because he knows of that factor. But that's his choice. He has not come out because I've let him know that other teams … that I'm entertaining the other teams that have inquired."

Nolan said "many" teams already have inquired about acquiring Winborn's services. Because of that interest, Nolan said he advised Winborn not to come out to practice.

"I suggested to him that he do that," Nolan said. "Because of the situation, it would benefit him more. And he was OK with it. He knows as well as I do … Jamie sees himself as a starter and I see him as one. And it's difficult as I watch him and watch his actions and the things that mean a lot to him, it's tough for him to be a backup."

If Nolan can't work out an equitable deal involving Winborn, he did not rule out that the linebacker could return to the team, saying, "I'm still investigating all those things right now." But that possibility seems unlikely.

When asked if there is a possibility Winborn would be waived if a trade can't be worked out, Nolan replied, "I'm not at that point yet, no." And, certainly, the team would not want to part ways with Winborn without at least getting something in return for its 2001 second-round draft pick.

But Nolan made it clear that – one way or another – Winborn no longer is in the team's plans.

"Obviously, I think we're better with the situation we have," he said.


Niners Digest Top Stories