The 49ers on Saturday traded cornerback Kenneth Acker to the Chiefs for a late-round draft pick while also cutting nine players, including wide receiver Jerome Simpson.
The 49ers’ roster is now at 79 players; they must trim it to 75 by 1 p.m. Tuesday, then to 53 by Saturday afternoon.
Chip Kelly said Simpson was let go to give him a chance to catch on with another squad before the final preseason games are played this week. Simpson, 30, was one of the few receivers on the roster with any meaningful experience, having played in 62 games since 2008.
The others who were released are: receiver DiAndre Campbell, running back Kendall Gaskins, defensive lineman Darren Lake, kicker John Lunsford, linebacker Wynton McManis, guards Blake Muir and Ian Silberman and cornerback Cleveland Wallace. Of that group, Silberman, a sixth-round pick in 2015, was the only player the 49ers drafted.
In addition, the 49ers placed receiver Eric Rogers on injured reserve with an ACL tear he suffered early in training camp.
Acker, 24, was a sixth-round pick in the 2014 draft who excelled in both his rookie and 2015 preseasons. A foot injury sidelined him for all of 2014, but last year he started 13 games and finished tied with fellow cornerback starter Tramaine Brock with three interceptions.
The 49ers, however, began to sour on Acker as a starter late in the year, and he was buried under a slew of young cornerbacks when the offseason began. He was on the field for two punt returns in Friday’s loss to the Packers, but he did not play on defense. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the trade was for a seventh-round pick in the 2018 draft.
The opening-week starters at cornerback will be Brock and Jimmie Ward, while Chris Davis will battle rookie Will Redmond for the nickel cornerback role. Keith Reaser, Dontae Johnson and rookie Rashard Robinson are competing for backup jobs at outside cornerback.
The trade is contingent on Acker passing a physical with the Chiefs. The 49ers and Chiefs have been frequent trade partners in recent years, beginning with a deal that sent quarterback Alex Smith to Kansas City in 2013. Later that year, the teams swapped disappointing first-round receivers, with the 49ers getting Jon Baldwin in exchange for A.J. Jenkins.
Injuries – Kelly said running back Carlos Hyde is in the concussion protocol after absorbing a hard hit in the second quarter of Friday’s game. He said the team is awaiting MRI results on defensive lineman Quinton Dial (MCL) and receiver Bruce Ellington (hamstring).