The last of the final cuts: Why they're gone

The 49ers made their final cuts early Saturday afternoon, sending eight veterans, three rookies and two first-year players to the waiver wire to get down to the NFL-mandated 53-man limit. Here's a look at each of the 13 players who didn't stick on the final roster, reviewing what they did this summer and why they won't be going forward with the team into the 2007 season.

WR Bryan Gilmore: It became apparent during the summer that Gilmore would be aced out for a roster spot at receiver after Taylor Jacobs moved past him on the depth chart and Ashley Lelie began performing like the Ashley Lelie the 49ers were hoping would show up in the preseason. Gilmore's veteran professionalism and versatility has kept him in the NFL for six seasons, but when given an opportunity as the No. 3 receiver with the 49ers last year, Gilmore finished with just eight receptions while playing almost half of the team's offensive snaps. Gilmore had five receptions during the preseason but never could gain back the ground he lost this summer, even after the team gave him a look as a kick returner.

RB Thomas Clayton: The sixth-round draft pick displayed some impressive development during the summer, particularly in the preseason finale when he looked like a player while rushing for a game-high 84 yards on 14 carries – a 6.0 average – to finish as San Francisco's leading rusher during the preseason with 200 yards on 45 carries. But the team decided to go light at running back with just four keepers at the position this year, and young veterans Michael Robinson and Maurice Hicks were the choices to be Frank Gore's backup at tailback.

DE Sam Rayburn: The versatile defensive lineman looked good this summer and probably was one of the final players cut, simply because there was no room for him on the roster as the 49ers went with other players on their defensive interior, where Bryant Young, Aubrayo Franklin, Ronnie Fields, Isaac Sopoaga were all deemed better alternatives at positions Rayburn might play. The five-year veteran had a good preseason, recording seven tackles and getting in on one sack.

TE Zach Hilton: A five-year veteran, Hilton made a strong roster bid with a fine summer, but the 49ers could just not find a way to keep four tight ends on their final roster because of their logjam at receiver. A huge target at 6-foot-8, Hilton showed an ability to get open and also performed well as a blocker. Both of his preseason receptions went for touchdowns as he led San Francisco in that category. But Hilton couldn't work his way past the three young homegrown players the 49ers have at the position in Vernon Davis, Delanie Walker and Billy Bajema.

LB Colby Bockwoldt: One of the final players released, Bockwoldt got caught in a numbers game in the team's upgrade at linebacker. A four-year veteran, Bockwoldt played well during the preseason with 11 tackles on defense and three on special teams. But he lost out to Jeff Ulbrich and Hannibal Navies for the final backup roles at the position.

OT Harvey Dahl: Dahl was a success story last season, making the team and appearing in four games after coming into the league the previous year as an undrafted rookie free agent with the Dallas Cowboys. But with the addition of first-round pick Joe Staley, Dahl got pushed down the depth chart, and he was unable to beat out Patrick Estes for the final backup role at tackle. Getting beat for a sack in the preseason didn't help.

FB Zak Keasey: The 49ers like Keasey and what he can bring to the team, but keeping him on the roster as a second fullback was simply a luxury the team couldn't afford with its roster issues at other positions. Keasey, who spent 15 games on the team's practice squad last year, is a good blocker and also can drive with the football in his hands. He carried twice for 12 yards and had three receptions out of the backfield during the preseason.

S Darnell Bing: A fourth-round draft pick by the Oakland Raiders in 2006, Bing did some nice things after being claimed off waivers on July 26. But he had to beat out impressive fourth-round draft pick Dashon Goldson for the No. 4 safety role, and that wasn't going to happen. Bing has some nice film to show around the league, though, after a strong effort in the preseason finale at San Diego, when he had four tackles and played well on special teams. Bing finished the preseason with six tackles on defense and two on special teams.

S Vickiel Vaughn: The seventh-round draft pick from 2006 was pretty much in the same boat as Bing, though the team liked what he brought to the position. After spending his rookie season on injured reserve and then this past spring in NFL Europa, Vaughn has practice squad eligibility and could be asked back for further development. Vaughn had four tackles and another on special teams during the preseason.

OT Damane Duckett: A four-year NFL veteran, Duckett was attempting to make a position switch from defensive line to offensive tackle this year. He has impressive size at 6-foot-6 and 318 pounds and good athleticism, but OT is a difficult position to learn in mid-career, and the 49ers went with the more-polished Patrick Estes as the team's fourth tackle.

OT Tavares Washington: Washington is a decent looking prospect who spent his entire rookie season last year on San Francisco's practice squad and might be asked back again this year for another developmental season.

LB Mark Washington: A physical specimen, the rookie has some edge skills but was just too raw to seriously challenge for a roster spot this season. He had three tackles in the preseason finale at San Diego after recording just one in San Francisco's first three exhibition games.

TE Zac Herold: The rookie from Nebraska-Omaha was on the summer roster strictly to provide a fifth tight end for practice purposes. He had one reception for nine yards in the exhibition finale, his total for the preseason.


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