SFI's takes: Veterans lost

With the first significant phase of free agency now over, the 49ers' 2007 roster is taking shape. As the team turns its preparations toward the NFL draft next month, SFI will review players the 49ers have re-signed, lost and acquired in free agency along with players from the team's 2006 roster that currently remain in limbo, and give our takes on each and every move. Today: Veterans lost.

WR Antonio Bryant: It's sad to say, but it was good riddance when the 49ers made the difficult decision to release Bryant in March after a failed one-year experiment with the team. Or maybe it wasn't such a difficult decision. Bryant proved to be a temperamental individual who was a tremendous talent on the field but both unreliable and irresponsible off it. He had to go, leaving after just one season of the four-year, $13.9 million deal he signed with the team in March of 2006. Because the details of that contract were linked to playing time, the Niners took a minimal hit to their salary cap this year by releasing the troubled receiver.

CB Sammy Davis: He had a few shining moments as San Francisco's third cornerback in 2006, but not nearly enough of them. He more often could be seen getting burned by opposing receivers, though he hardly proved to be the bust that Rashaun Woods - the former first-round draft pick the 49ers traded to acquire Davis last spring - was with the San Diego Chargers. Still, the 49ers want to get better in their defensive secondary in 2007, and Davis simply wasn't good enough to fit into those plans,

TE Eric Johnson: To be sure, the 49ers wanted Johnson - San Francisco's franchise record-holder for most receptions in a season by a tight end with 82 in 2004 - to return in 2007. But just as clearly, the unrestricted free agent would have had to return as the backup to Vernon Davis, and Johnson opted instead for a starting opportunity with the pass-happy offense of the New Orleans Saints. Johnson expressed a desire to remain in San Francisco, and the one-year, $2 million deal he received from New Orleans was in line with what he could have got from the 49ers, but ultimately he went for the chance to see many more passes coming his way.

DT Lance Legree: The 49ers might have considered signing back Legree to compete for a roster berth in training camp, but the seventh-year veteran signed as an unrestricted free agent with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He would have had a difficult time making San Francisco's roster next year with the player the 49ers plan to bring in - and have already brought in and brought back - along the defensive line.

C Jeremy Newberry: The 49ers made the decision early in the year to move on without the two-time Pro Bowler, who missed all of last season and is literally playing on his last legs after having major microfracture surgery on both of his knees. It's tough to part ways with a true 49er and warrior such as Newberry, but he can barely practice any more and it's certainly no sure thing he'll ever get back on the field again. He signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal with the Oakland Raiders as an unrestricted free agent.

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