49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh had a conference call with the media following the team’s 53-man cuts today. While much of the preseason discussion surrounded the position of wide receiver, the biggest news to come out of Santa Clara today was the team’s decision to cut their longest-tenured player, long snapper Brian Jennings.
Originally drafted by then-GM Bill Walsh in 2000, Jennings spent his entire career with the 49ers before being beaten out by the younger (and less expensive) undrafted rookie Kevin McDermott. Shortly after the announcement of his release, Jennings released a heartfelt closing statement through CSN Bay Area.
Harbaugh was equally poignant with his comments when asked about Jennings, saying of the decision, “On a personal level, that’s as tough as it gets.”
“It was a big decision, and personal, because Jennings and I breathe the same air.”
The coach said McDermott is “a top level talent” in a position that was “highly scrutinized,” but the decision was in the best interest of the team.
Harbaugh used the terms “merit” and “meritocracy” in several different instances during the conference call, mostly when evading the mention of players on the bubble and battles for roster spots. He neatly evaded questions of Cam Johnson’s bubble status prior to the fourth preseason exhibition against San Diego, saying what he did in practice and in all the games left no question that he earned it.
– The coach had no comment on Owen Marecic, who the team is rumored to be signing but didn’t account for in their final cuts. Harbaugh said he didn’t want to talk about anyone who’s not a part of the team, even those they intend to sign or work out. There should be at least one more cut coming down the pipe.
– Harbaugh wouldn’t comment on B.J. Daniels’s chance to compete for the backup quarterback spot with Colt McCoy either. That probably means he’s in play for the position should Colin Kaepernick go down.
– He did say Daniels earned his roster spot on “merit.”
– There was very little discussion on the decision to cut Lavelle Hawkins, Chuck Jacobs, Chad Hall or Austin Collie. Harbaugh said they competed well, performed well, but at this time weren’t put on the 53-man roster.
– A certain blogger for a certain newspaper based in the North Bay asked what the 49ers’ plans were with LaMichael James, and whether they would be putting him on the physically unable to perform list. After being told who asked the question, Harbaugh responded that on the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, the 49ers can’t put James on the PUP list.