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KD Cannon released because B.J. Johnson showed so much to 49ers

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I’m a little skeptical it’s that simple, but such is life.

The San Francisco 49ers were active in undrafted free agency following the 2017 NFL draft, and one of the notable names they signed was Baylor wide receiver K.D. Cannon. Todd McShay ranked him one of his top ten UDFAs, and plenty others considered him the best UDFA wide receiver on the market.

That made it a bit surprising when the 49ers released him a week later. There was speculation as to why Cannon was released, but we did not get concrete answers. The most regular refrain was that he did not show enough hustle.

Last week, wide receivers coach Mike LaFleur met with the media and discussed his players. Jennifer Chan will have a longer look at his comments later today, but in the meantime, I wanted to pull out LaFleur’s comments about KD Cannon.

When the 49ers released Cannon, he was one of three players released, along with running back DuJuan Harris and offensive lineman Bret Treadway. The 49ers replaced them with wide receiver B.J. Johnson, safety Chanceller James, and offensive lineman Richard Levy.

LaFleur said that Cannon’s released had nothing to do with him, but was more about what Johnson showed he could do. The 49ers had brought Johnson into rookie minicamp as a tryout candidate, and he impressed.

The 49ers liked his blocking ability and his passion for blocking, which they saw plenty of due to Georgia Southern having a run-heavy offense. They liked his size (5’11, 213 pounds) and the toughness he brought to the table. LaFleur believes he stood out enough to be worth giving a shot.

I remain a little skeptical of the reasoning given that Cannon was released after just rookie minicamp. I don’t doubt that B.J. Johnson showed more than Cannon, but it still seems a little odd to see Cannon released Willie Mays Hayes style. Maybe there was nothing to it on Cannon’s part, maybe there was something. I suppose it really doesn’t matter at this point as the 49ers head into mandatory minicamp.