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49ers promote TE Asante Cleveland from practice squad, release Josh Johnson

The San Francisco 49ers have promoted tight end Asante Cleveland from the practice squad, likely providing an emergency option if Vernon Davis or Vance McDonald cannot play on Sunday. To make room, the 49ers released quarterback Josh Johnson.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers made a roster move on Saturday, promoting tight end Asante Cleveland, and releasing quarterback Josh Johnson. The 49ers originally signed Cleveland as an undrafted free agent in May. He was released during final roster cuts and then signed to the practice squad.

Vernon Davis and Vance McDonald are both listed as questionable for Sunday's game against the Arizona Cardinals. This would seem to indicate that one or both might be less than 50 percent likely to play. Both will probably go through a workout on Sunday before the game, at which point the 49ers will decide if they should be active or inactive. The 49ers have to promote a player from the practice squad by Saturday in order to have them available for Sunday. Davis and McDonald could both still play on Sunday, but the 49ers need insurance just in case.

Derek Carrier is already looking at more playing time. Additionally, the team has long snapper Kyle Nelson as an emergency option at tight end. I would not expect Nelson to see much playing time, although if both Davis and McDonald are unable to play, that opens the door for a little bit of playing time for Nelson. The 49ers have not used very many 3-TE sets this season, instead opting for more 3-WR sets. I suspect we'll see a sizable chunk of 3-WR sets on Sunday.

It is not exactly a shock that Johnson got the release. The 49ers never really needed to keep three quarterbacks. I would not be surprised if Johnson was back once Davis and McDonald are healthy. However, at this point, with Blaine Gabbert seemingly locked in as the backup, the 49ers can use the extra roster spot. Colin Kaepernick had a back thing in practice this week, but was a full participant and is listed as probable. Clearly it is not an issue.