49ers drop Barkley, Hightower in first wave of cuts

The first wave of cuts have come in for the San Francisco 49ers as the club has announced the dismissal of 15 players in addition to waiving two players on injury reserve.

The names of the 15 men released are as follows:

QB Matt Barkley

LB Shayne Skov

RB Kapri Bibbs

FB Tyler McCloskey

OL Tim Barnes

S Vinnie Sunseri

CB Will Davis

DL Leger Douzable

OL Andrew Gardner

RB Tim Hightower

WR Louis Murphy

OL Andrew Lauderdale

WR Tim Patrick

OL Norman Price

K Nick Rose

On top of that, two players were waived after each suffered injuries earlier during the preseason/training camp. As of Friday afternoon, defensive backs,  Will Redmond and Prince Charles Iworah have been released from the organization.

In releasing Redmond and Iworah, the new 49ers regime is making a clear attempt to distance themselves from their predecessor in former general manager Trent Baalke who was fired after the 2016 regular season.

Redmond, who was drafted by the 49ers in 2016 as one of Baalke’s infamous “ACL picks,” saw no field time in only season in San Francisco and was hindered this preseason by a nagging ankle injury.

Iworah, on the other hand, spent his only season as a 49er on the practice squad in 2016. The second-year defensive back was bitten by the injury bug this preseason which kept him out of the majority of training camp and exhibition games.

The most surprising cut from Friday was Barkley who was expected to make the 53-man roster as the team’s third string quarterback.

Barkley slipped behind rookie third-round pick, C.J. Beathard, after having a disappointing camp and preseason. Despite his struggles over the past two months, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan voiced his desire to keep at least three quarterbacks on the roster on Thursday night, implying his want to retain Barkley:

“I would love to keep three quarterbacks and that’s going to be a hard debate. … I do (have final say) but I don’t have final say of keeping 70 people.”

Clearly, the debate did not go in Shanahan’s favor resulting in Barkley’s departure.  

In addition to Barkley, another cut that came as somewhat of a shock to those following the team was that of veteran running back, Tim Hightower.

After signing with the 49ers on April 1, Hightower was expected to come and compete for a second- or third-string role as a ball carrier.

Hightower apparently did not impress the San Francisco coaching staff though as he was held to only 20 yards on 11 carries throughout three games played in the preseason and even coughed up a fumble in Week 2.

The emergence of rookies Matt Breida and Joe Williams likely played a large role in Hightower’s release as well after pair of first-year backs made themselves nearly impossible for the 49ers to cut by their play.

As expected, the 49ers have begun to trim down their large group of offensive linemen by cutting five-year veteran Tim Barnes and Norman Price.

Banes and Price, along with several members of the offensive line group, vastly under-achieved in both training camp and the few reps of preseason football they saw, ultimately leading to San Francisco’s decision to release them.

San Francisco will likely end up with 8-10 offensive lineman by the time cuts are finished so several more moves at this position group will be made by Saturday.

The 49ers will have until 1 p.m. PST on Saturday to make their final cuts in order to reach their final 53-man roster to begin the 2017 regular season.

With 20 more moves needed to reach that goal, there will be lots of work to do for the San Francisco front office but for now, 17 cuts will suffice.