The 49ers continued their game of musical roster spots today by cutting special teams player Ray Ventrone and re-signing quarterback Josh Johnson, who was released late last week to make room for Ventrone.
Johnson already has been cut twice this season.
The maneuver allows the 49ers to go through most of the week of practice in preparation for Sunday’s night game against the Broncso in Denver with three quarterbacks, with Johnson presumably as the scout-team passer.
Asked last week if Johnson would be back, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said, “Yes, he’s a 49ers quarterback.”
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As the team’s No. 3 quarterback, Johnson is unlikely to be active for games. On the other hand, a veteran like Ventrone, who has no role on defense, does not require a full week of practice to be valuable on game days as a coverage specialist.
There is only some risk of another team signing Johnson. Because he’s been cut late in the week, he gets that week’s game check and thus remains loyal to the 49ers. And as a vested veteran he is not subject to waivers.
However, that roster trick will not be available to the 49ers after the Oct. 28 trade deadline when veterans like Johnson would be subject to waivers.
The 49ers also are expected to add a number of players to the active roster in the next month and half, including Aldon Smith, NaVorro Bowman, Glenn Dorsey and Marcus Lattimore. When they do that, players will have to be removed from the roster.
At that point, Johnson will be a prime candidate to be cut, perhaps for more than a few days.
Read Matt Barrows’ blogs and archives at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers.