The 49ers today waived injured tight end Nate Byham, a former sixth-round pick who tore his ACL last August and has been slowed in his comeback from the injury. Byham missed Friday's preseason opener and all of this week's practices.
At the close of the 2011 season, which he missed, Byham said that he was ahead of schedule in his rehabilitation and was eager to return to the practice field. A league source, however, said that Byham's injured knee has not responded well in recent weeks and that he was hoping that time away from practice could help it regain its strength. Byham had an MRI earlier this week.
If Byham clears waivers, the 49ers can place him on injured reserve for the second straight season. The two sides also could reach an injury settlement, which would allow Byham to become a free agent.
An excellent blocker, Byham was competing to be the team's No. 3 tight end. Now it appears that Konrad Reuland, a member of the practice squad last year, is in the lead for that spot. Or it's possible that the 49ers go into the season with only two true tight ends: Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker.
Several defensive players, such as Demarcus Dobbs and Will Tukuafu, have been playing offense this offseason, and it's possible that one can be brought into the game when it calls for a third tight end. Dobbs has shown promise at tight end, and he's even changed his jersey to No. 40 to accommodate the move. Tukuafu has lined up as a fullback/H-back. The other tight ends on the team are undrafted rookie Garrett Celek, longsnapper Kyle Nelson and newly signed Joe Sawyer.
Another tight end, Gijon Robinson, was cut yesterday after he didn't show up for practice, according to a team source.
-- Matt Barrows