Cohen among casualties as 49ers make 1st cuts

The 49ers got a head start Saturday on the NFL's first mandatory cutdown to 75 players by releasing five youngsters, none of whom had much of an opportunity to make the squad this summer. The most notable name is defensive lineman Joe Cohen, a fourth-round draft pick from 2007. Here's a look at the five players and why they're no longer with the team.

DT Joe Cohen: The third of the team's three fourth-round draft picks in 2007, Cohen displayed flashes of size and ability and was making a roster push last summer as a rookie before a knee injury in the preseason finale against San Diego put him on injured reserve for the season. Cohen has been behind several established veterans in the inside defensive line rotation and was not able to catch up this season. Cohen didn't get much playing time in the first three exhibition games and recorded no tackles. The 6-foot-2, 321-pounder just didn't display much development from last year. He remains a candidate to be signed to the 49ers' practice squad in September, but it's debatable whether he showed enough this year for the team to be interested.

TE Cooper Wallace: Caught in a numbers game behind roster-locks Vernon Davis, Delanie Walker and Billy Bajema at the position, the veteran – who appeared in two games with the Tennessee Titans in 2006 – did not get much of an opportunity this summer and did not catch a pass or make much of an impression in three preseason games. The 49ers opted to keep rookie J.J. Finley instead of Wallace for a longer look at the position.

QB Kyle Wright: The San Francisco Bay Area product, released earlier this year after signing with the Minnesota Vikings as an undrafted rookie free agent this spring, was here this summer only as a training camp arm, but actually looked pretty decent when given a few opportunities in team drills at the end of practice. He's a developmental prospect who could have a shot at San Francisco's practice squad next week.

S Lewis Baker: An athletic prospect who was attempting to make the conversion from linebacker in college to safety at the pro level, Lewis never got it going in training camp because of a thigh injury. The undrafted rookie free agent did not see any action during the preseason.

G John Booker: The undrafted rookie free agent was with the team briefly this spring before being released, then was signed back to the squad after training camp began. Booker has some versatility to play both tackle and guard, but he wasn't going to beat out the players the 49ers already had established at the position, and with two draft picks virtually guaranteed roster berths along the offensive line, Booker's fate was sealed long before the arrival of cutdown day.

The 49ers now have 76 players on their roster, but they are at the NFL-mandated 75-man limit, a figure all NFL teams must be at by Tuesday afternoon. The 49ers have a roster exemption for offensive tackle Ramiro Pruneda, who is allocated to San Francisco this year as part of the NFL's International Practice Squad Program and will spend the 2008 season on the 49ers' practice squad.


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