The San Francisco 49ers announced Thursday that they have officially waived wide receiver Bruce Ellington. Since Ellington has three years of accrued service time, he is not a vested veteran, and thus must go through the waivers process. That means any of the other 31 NFL teams can place a claim on him.
Matt Maiocco was the first to report Ellington was going to be released. He followed up his report with a list of three reasons why the move was happening. One reason was he was being outplayed by the other wide receivers. He was at least third on the slot receiver depth chart behind Jeremy Kerley and Trent Taylor, and potentially going to lose his returner job to Taylor or one of the other young receivers. The injuries were another concern, as a significant injury would have guaranteed his fourth year salary.
The third reason is the most interesting, and if true, speaks well to John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan. While Ellington has struggled in 49ers camp, he is a talented wide receiver. Injuries have been a big problem, but there are a lot of teams looking for wide receiver help. Waiving Ellington now instead of during final cuts gives him a chance to potentially join a team before their first preseason game. It gives him the best chance at this point to still earn a job for the 2017 season.
I imagine Ellington is not overly pleased to be waived, but he also likely recognizes that this could provide him a better chance the rest of August. This makes it clear he had little chance of making this year’s 49ers roster at this point. He is bound to be claimed by another team looking for any kind of help they can. The Seattle Seahawks love the SPARQ-type players that he represents. They’re further down the waiver wire though, and it would not surprise me if a team higher up the waiver order made a claim.