One of the cornerstones of the Jim Harbaugh era in San Francisco was the massive, mauling offensive lines that paved the way for Frank Gore and the running game. The unit did regress this past season, but even with Mike Iupati's struggles, the 49ers are a better team with him than without him. Unfortunately, keeping Iupati will be a tall order, and the 49ers will let him test the open market, according to Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area.
Iupati was one of two starting offensive linemen drafted by San Francisco in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft. The other, right tackle Anthony Davis, received a long-term extension before the 2013 season. Iupati had to wait, and now his market may prove to be too competitive for the 49ers to match. Still, even if the team loses Iupati it should return the other four members of the starting line.
San Francisco seemed to prepare for this possibility, drafting Brandon Thomas a season ago, and Joe Looney has also received considerable playing time of late. One of those guys should be able to fill Iupati's place. Most have figured Iupati is definitely gone from San Francisco, and the most surprising aspect of Maiocco's tweet may actually be that there is a chance he returns.
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Wayne has surgery, mulling retirement
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne had triceps surgery and is now dealing with the decision of whether to retire or return for another season, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network. Wayne is currently rehabbing the injury but it's unclear if that is a factor in his decision. Wayne has been in the league since 2001, when the Colts made him a first-round pick, and he's amassed 1,070 receptions for 14,345 yards and 82 touchdowns in that time.
His production has been sporadic over the past couple seasons but he's remained an effective receiver. He also has only ever played for the Colts organization, and has stated that he can't imagine playing anywhere else. Wayne is set to be a free agent in March, which could have a lot to do with his decision. If the Colts want him back, it seems more likely that he'd return.
Young to take part in veteran combine
While the big news out of the NFL's first veteran combine is that Michael Sam will be in attendance to try and convince a team he deserves a chance, there are bound to be some other interesting names. One such name: quarterback Vince Young, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network.
Young will turn 32 in May and hasn't played in a regular season game in the NFL since 2011, when he was with the Philadelphia Eagles. He was the No. 3 overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft, and played for the Titans before heading to Philadelphia. He's signed with other organizations and worked out for other teams since the last time he played for the Eagles, but none of those teams have used him or kept him for very long. Young has a career completion percentage of 57.9 with 46 touchdowns and 51 interceptions.
NFL Veteran Combine
Miami releases Gibson
The Miami Dolphins released wide receiver Brandon Gibson on Friday, according to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald. Gibson was owed almost $3.5 million in 2015, and though at one point he was considered an up-and-comer, he struggled last season. He's dealt with multiple injuries that have slowed him down and he wound up being the No. 4 receiver on a middling Dolphins team in 2014. He caught just 29 passes for 295 yards and a touchdown last season, but should be able to find a backup job somewhere in the league at 27 years old.
Washington saves big
Washington, the team that just signed defensive lineman Ricky Jean-Francois on Thursday, made a couple big cuts in that area on Friday. They released defensive linemen Barry Cofield and Stephen Bowen on Friday, which saves them nearly $10 million in cap space for the 2015 season, according to John Keim of ESPN.
Bowen saved the team $5.5 million on his own. Both Cofield and Bowen have been effective at times, and at one point were anchoring what was considered a deeply talented defensive line. But injuries wrecked said line, and Washington is content to part ways with these two to make room for Jean-Francois, who should now step into a starting role.