49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh chatted with the media at lunch time today and confirmed that running back Jewel Hampton would start the season on the PUP list. For those who are unaware of Hampton, the 49ers signed him as an undrafted free agent this past spring after a strong final season at Southern Illinois. Hampton rushed for 1,121 yards (4.9 yards per carry) after missing most of 2010 and all of 2009 with a pair of ACL tears.
Coach Harbaugh said that Hampton had bone spurs removed from a "lower extremity" but did not go beyond that. Of course, given how most players are just "working through something", this qualifies as a sizable revelation from the normally tight-lipped 49ers head coach. Whatever the case, Harbaugh clarified that Hampton would likely start the season on the PUP list.
For roster purposes, right now Hampton counts as one of the 49ers 90 players. However, starting the season on the PUP list means he would not count against the 53-man roster limit. That buys the 49ers some time to see how he responds and how the rest of the roster looks. He has to spend six weeks on the PUP list, at which point the team either has to activate him, release him, or try and get him through waivers onto injured reserve.