Niners Cut Quarterback, Leaving Roster With Only 1 Healthy QB: Report

Kyle shanahan John lynch

Getty Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers (R) talks with general manager John Lynch.

The San Francisco 49ers are down to two quarterbacks.

On Tuesday, August 31, the Niners said goodbye to 23 players as they moved toward their initial 53-man roster. One of those players was third-string signal caller Nate Sudfeld, who the team signed to a one-year deal on April 7.

Kyle Madson, managing editor at Niners Wire, was one of the first to tweet about the Niners’ decision on Sudfeld late Tuesday afternoon.

“Nate Sudfeld was waived by the 49ers,” Madson tweeted. “He did not beat out Trey Lance for the backup QB job.”

While the latter part of the tweet was tongue in cheek, as perhaps not one person who follows the NFL with any regularity would have expected Sudfeld to win QB2 honors over the rookie phenom, the fact that Sudfeld was let go does come as something of a surprise.

Niners Will Only Carry 2 QBs, at Least For Now

Nate Sudfeld Eagles 49ers

GettyQuarterback Nate Sudfeld, formerly of the Philadelphia Eagles, was cut by the San Francisco 49ers on Tuesday, August 31, 2021.

The 27-year-old Sudfeld has had a moderately long career as a backup but has hardly set the world on fire after being selected out of Indiana University in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL draft by what is now known as the Washington Football Team.

After remaining inactive for his entire rookie season, Washington waived the 6-foot, 6-inch Sudfeld, who was promptly scooped up by the Philadelphia Eagles. He remained there for four seasons in a backup role. During his time in Philly, Sudfeld appeared in only four games, throwing for 188 yards and 1 touchdown on 25 of 37 passing, according to Pro Football Reference.

Nothing about Sudfeld’s performance throughout his five full years, and one preseason, in the league made it a guarantee the Niners would keep him. What makes his release on Tuesday surprising is that it leaves the 49ers with only two quarterbacks on the active roster just 12 days before their Week 1 matchup with the Lions in Detroit.

Two weeks ago to the day, the Niners waived QB Josh Rosen after a disappointing preseason stint with the squad. He has since joined the Atlanta Falcons.

Niners Currently Have Only 1 Healthy QB on Roster

Drew Brees Trey Lance

GettyTrey Lance, of the San Francisco 49ers.

What makes the move to release Sudfeld more curious is that it comes just one day after Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan announced that Lance had suffered a broken bone in a finger on his throwing hand and would miss at least one week of action.

Lance suffered the injury during the Niners’ final preseason game on Sunday, August 29 — a 34-10 victory over the Los Angeles Raiders.

Shanahan said earlier this month that Lance will play significant snaps in Week 1, assuming he is healthy, though that does not mean he will be the starter immediately. The team has noted that there will be something of a two-quarterback system in place, though indications point to veteran Jimmy Garoppolo as the primary signal caller with Lance serving as a supplemental quarterback of sorts, at least to start.

Considering Lance’s current injury, and Garoppolo’s injury-prone status throughout his time in San Francisco, carrying a third quarterback might be a productive use of one of the Niners’ 53 roster spots. That is especially true considering both QBs are expected to play meaningful snaps in every game, which drives up the potential that both could be hurt in the span of one contest.

However, not everyone who covers the Niners regularly agrees that the move to cut Sudfeld was curious or puts the Niners in a potentially precarious position.

“The 49ers were smart to keep only two quarterbacks because Nate Sudfeld is not NFL caliber,” asserted Grant Cohn, of Sports Illustrated’s All 49ers. “He can sign with the practice squad and run the scout team in practice.”

The Niners initial 53-man roster that the team announced Tuesday is not the final 53-man roster San Francisco will field heading into Week 1 in Detroit. That leaves the Niners 12 days to decide if they want to add another quarterback to the active player list or roll with the two signal callers they still have.

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