So, instead, the 49ers placed him on injured reserve early in the season with a thumb injury. Although Woods was healthy and participating in the team's off-season program, coach Mike Nolan figured he was not losing anything if he dealt Woods to the Chargers for cornerback Sammy Davis.
Davis, like Woods, is a former first-round draft pick whose team had given up on getting a return on its sizable investment. Woods was the 31st player selected in the 2004 draft. Many in the NFL had Woods pegged as a second- or third-round draft selection.
Nolan said he did not see Woods getting himself in a position to compete for playing time after the 49ers added Antonio Bryant and Bryan Gilmore to the mix via free agency. The 49ers are also likely to draft one or more receivers later this month.
"After strengthening the wide receiver position with the addition of free agents Antonio Bryant and Bryan Gilmore, we felt it was important to focus on other areas to improve our team," Nolan said.
Woods battled injuries during his short time with the 49ers. He experienced problems with his quadriceps and hamstrings during his first training camp, and saw limited playing time as a rookie. He caught just seven passes for 160 yards and a touchdown in 14 games.
He would have been cut at the end of training camp last year, but the 49ers were forced to hold onto him for salary-cap purposes. Said Nolan at the time: "There are wise (salary) cap decisions and not-so-wise decisions, and every team has a number of players who fit in that deal ... He's one of those guys who fits in there."
The 49ers were able to make the trade because they are in better salary-cap shape. The dumping of Woods' contract results in nearly $2.5 million in "dead money" on the team's $102 million salary cap.
But with the addition of Davis' $630,000 salary for this season, the 49ers lose only $742,000 in cap space for this season. The club still has approximately $14.1 million in cap room.
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