Niners make moves with injured players

The 49ers didn't wait around until training camp started to get their house in order. They tied up some loose ends Wednesday by waiving two players who had failed their physicals, and making a move with another injured player who must remain on the roster due to salary cap circumstances.

The Niners waived second-year linebacker Alex Lincoln and second-year offensive lineman Milford Stephenson, and placed veteran defensive lineman Junior Bryant on the reserve/physically unable to perform list - where Bryant also spent the 2001 season.

That Lincoln would ultimately be released was a foregone conclusion. The 2001 seventh-round draft pick missed last season after doctors determined fibers surrounding the disks in his back were torn loose, a condition that caused pain, numbness and tingling in his pelvic region and right arm. Lincoln was expected to heal in the offseason without surgery, but he experienced the same problem during April workouts with the team and failed a physical before the full-squad minicamp at the end of April and was sent home. He later confided to team officials that he didn't feel the condition would allow him to compete for a spot with the team.

Stephenson had been hobbled throughout the spring and had lost ground to other young candidates along the offensive line. His experience at center made him valuable, since the team does not have a true backup for starter Jeremy Newberry at that position, but Stephenson was not able to get healthy enough to join the team next week when training camp practice sessions begin Monday morning at the University of the Pacific campus in Stockton.

It was at UOP last summer that Bryant announced his intentions to return and play with the team after a career-threatening neck injury had ended his 2000 season. But he never did get clearance from team doctors and the team has said several times that Bryant never again will play for the 49ers. He will be kept on the roster, possibly until after next June 1, to relieve the hit caused by the amortized bonus portion of the six-year deal Bryant signed during the 2000 offseason before he was injured.



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