Monday, the 49ers acknowledged a mistake from recent years and sent DE Kentwan Balmer – a first-round draft choice in 2008 – to division-rival Seattle for the low, low price of a sixth-rounder in 2011.
Today, it was another admission as the Niners released WR Brandon Jones, a guy they handed $5.4 million in guaranteed money on Feb. 29, 2009 – part of a deal that could have paid as much as $16.5 over five years. Jones made $620,000 in base salary in ’09. Combine that with the bonus, and he made more than $6 million – for one catch. That’s what Jones registered last year, playing in eight games after he returned from a fractured shoulder.
On Aug. 2, Jones told the Press Democrat that he had counted on more playing time in 2009.
“Not necessarily assuming, but I thought I’d get more of a chance,” he said. “But nothing is ever given to you.”
Jones was hampered by injuries this year as well. He missed the final week of OTAs and the 49ers’ June minicamp with a sprained ankle, and sat out 10 days of training camp with a strained hamstring. Jones returned to practice yesterday.
With the emergence of Dominique Zeigler and rookie Kyle Williams during camp, Jones was in fierce competition to make the 53-man roster. Michael Crabtree, Josh Morgan and Ted Ginn seem like locks, and fourth-year veteran Jason Hill also is in the mix. Last year the 49ers opened the season with six wide receivers.
Jones was due to make $2.145 million in salary in 2010.
Jones has an impressive mix of size (6-1, 212) and speed, but was never particularly productive in the NFL. His best season was 2008, when he caught 41 passes for 449 yards and a touchdown. His totals after five pro seasons include 113 catches for 1,398 yards and 9 scores.
Jones also battled injuries in Tennessee, including a torn ACL in 2005 and a groin injury in 2007. He finished both of those seasons on the Titans’ injured reserve. Perhaps fearing he would suffer another season-ending injury and stay on their books, the 49ers cut their losses.