SANTA CLARA The 49ers shuffled the deck Tuesday at the most important position on the team, releasing promising rookie quarterback B.J. Daniels and reaching a deal with one-time Cardinals foe John Skelton.
Skelton, 25, started 17 games over the past three seasons for Arizona, including three against the 49ers. He's thrown 15 touchdown passes against 25 interceptions over his NFL career and has a modest 63 passer rating.
All three starts against San Francisco were blowout wins for the 49ers. However, he also earned an upset victory against the 49ers in 2011 when he replaced injured starter Kevin Kolb and threw three touchdown passes in a 21-19 win.
Skelton, 6-foot-6 and 250 pounds, spent the offseason with the Bengals, eventually losing the backup job to Josh Johnson, who once played for the 49ers. Skelton worked out for the 49ers last month and had a tryout for the Titans earlier this week.
Daniels, a seventh-round pick in April, showed promise during the preseason when he threw three touchdown passes and put together several impressive offensive drives at the end of games.
His 128.6 preseason passer rating was the best among the 49ers' four QBs, and the team hopes to add him to the practice squad today.
At one point, it was a thought that Daniels might emerge as the 49ers' No. 2 quarterback behind Colin Kaepernick. But now Skelton could move into that role ahead of Colt McCoy, who has been on shaky footing with the 49ers coaching staff since the offseason.
Daniels would have to clear waivers in order to be signed to the practice squad, and that's not a given. Last month, for instance, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said his team also was considering drafting Daniels, who is similar in stature and maneuverability to Seattle starter Russell Wilson.
"We thought he was a nice player and an interesting guy to get on the team, and thought a lot of him," Carroll said prior to the 49ers-Seahawks game earlier this season. "We feel like we know him, and if he has a chance to play, at least we have some background on him. We studied him very carefully and all that. But we think a lot of his ability."
The 49ers made another move Tuesday, releasing former Stanford player Owen Marecic, a favorite of coach Jim Harbaugh's, and signing linebacker Jermaine Cunningham to a one-year deal.
Cunningham, 6-3 and 255 pounds, was selected by the Patriots in the second round of the 2010 draft. He has played in 36 games and has 67 tackles, 3 1/2 sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
The 49ers signed Marecic on Sept. 17 to play fullback and special teams. He was active against the Colts but not the Rams.
It was perhaps no coincidence that Marecic's signing came during a couple of bad games by fullback Bruce Miller. On Thursday, however, Miller had his best game of the season as the 49ers rushed for 219 yards in a win over St. Louis.
Marecic worked out for the 49ers in August after being released by the Browns, who drafted him in the fourth round in 2011. He played inside linebacker for Harbaugh and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio at Stanford.
Read Matthew Barrows' blogs and archives at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers and listen for his reports Tuesdays on ESPN Radio 1320.