SANTA CLARA – How little impact did wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin make this summer?
The 49ers on Sunday released the former first-round draft pick to make room for an undrafted rookie wideout, L’Damian Washington, whom the Cowboys cut Saturday.
The 49ers are short on receivers with Michael Crabtree and Brandon Lloyd dealing with minor injuries. Baldwin has been almost invisible in recent practices and was not on hand for the past two sessions.
When the Chiefs and 49ers swapped Baldwin and A.J. Jenkins, both first-round disappointments, a year ago, it seemed as though San Francisco got the better end of the deal. Jenkins hardly could stay on his feet in the rough-and-tumble NFC West while Baldwin – 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds – at least had size and was somewhat productive with Kansas City, catching 41 passes for 579 yards in two seasons.
Baldwin, however, managed only three catches last season for the 49ers despite a huge need at the position for most of the season. He was inactive for nine regular-season games and all three postseason games.
Jenkins, meanwhile, didn’t do much in Kansas City, catching eight passes for 130 yards. He has two years remaining on his contract. Baldwin was in the final year of his initial deal, and unlike Jenkins, his contract isn’t guaranteed.
Like Jenkins, Washington is slightly built at 6-4, 195 pounds. But Washington has long arms (333/8 inches), good speed and was a dangerous downfield threat at Missouri last year, catching 50 passes for 893 yards and 10 touchdowns. He went undrafted and was signed by Dallas in May.
In his absence Sunday, second-year lineman Mike Purcell played nose tackle with the first string, while Quinton Dial took repetitions with the second string.
Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said Dial and Tony Jerod-Eddie might get more snaps at the position. Both have background at nose tackle but have been playing defensive end this offseason.
Meanwhile, Fangio had no timetable for Ian Williams’ return. Williams was the starter at nose tackle in Week 1 last year but suffered a broken leg and ligament damage in Week 2. Fangio noted Williams had a setback in the spring.
Asked if Williams will be ready for the regular-season opener Sept. 7 at Dallas, Fangio said, “Haven’t decided that yet.”
This time it was cornerback Chris Culliver, who knocked receiver David Reed to the ground after a short catch. It was a nontackling drill, and Reed wasn’t happy with the treatment, firing the ball at Culliver when he got up.
Before the next play, Harbaugh admonished the players on avoiding cheap shots and on their responsibility to take care of one another in practice. He asked for a new starting cornerback, at which point Chris Cook ran onto the field while Culliver ran off. Culliver didn’t take any snaps for the rest of practice.
On Friday, Harbaugh sent veteran receiver Anquan Boldin to the locker room after he got in a fight with cornerback Darryl Morris. Training-camp dustups, while common in the NFL, have been rare under Harbaugh.