Niners release Bruce Thornton

The full-scale reconstruction of the 49ers' secondary continued Tuesday morning when the team waived third-year veteran Bruce Thornton, the Niners' regular starter at left cornerback during the 2005 season.

"I let Bruce go (because) I just felt it would give him an opportunity to maybe make it with another ball club," 49ers coach Mike Nolan said. "As we look down the stretch, I thought with the competition increased at the position and all, it would be a better move for both."

Thornton, a fourth-round draft pick of the Dallas Cowboys in 2004, was acquired by the 49ers last September after being released by the Cowboys and emerged quickly in the San Francisco secondary after beginning the season on the team's practice squad.

After starting left cornerback Ahmed Plummer went down after three games with an ankle injury, Thornton stepped into the lineup in Week 5 and started the next 11 games at left cornerback, continuing to hold the position even after Plummer returned from his injury in November.

Thornton had a strong starting debut as a 49er against the high-powered passing game of the Indianapolis Colts in October, and set himself up as viable candidate for the position in the future with solid play during his first month as a starter. He finished the season second on the team with eight passes defensed and tied for third with two interceptions. He also had 32 tackles, 31 of them solo stops.

But his play began to falter as the season progressed, and the 49ers apparently viewed him as part of the problem instead of the solution as the team moves forward in a secondary that allowed a franchise-worst 4,427 yards passing in 2005 while finishing last in the NFL in pass defense.

Thornton slipped down the depth chart during the offseason as the team acquired 11th-year veteran Walt Harris and immediately placed him in the starting lineup at left cornerback. Veteran Mike Rumph, second-year players Derrick Johnson and B.J. Tucker and newcomer Sammy Davis all passed Thornton in the team's plans at cornerback, so the 49ers decided to release him early in camp to give him an opportunity elsewhere.

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