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Niners Cut To Stay Under Cap

Two-time Pro Bowl linebacker Lee Woodall and defensive end Marvin Washington were released Wednesday and the San Francisco 49ers are close to cutting Pro Bowl safety Tim McDonald.

The moves are all part of San Francisco's plan to reduce its bloated payroll. By letting Woodall and Washington go, the 49ers saved about $1 million against the salary cap. The 49ers remain about $13.5 million over the projected $62.5 million salary cap.

The team must be under the cap by midnight EST Thursday. Failure to do so could result in a $1 million-per-day fine from the NFL.

Linebacker Ken Norton, Jr. is close to agreeing to a cap-saving restructured deal and the 49ers also are talking with the agent for Steve Young to rework his contract.

McDonald has balked at a San Francisco proposal that would cut his pay, and he, too, may become a cap casualty. McDonald said Wednesday he did not expect to return to the 49ers.

"I've had a great time. There comes a time when things happen and it happened," McDonald said. "The only thing that stays the same is change and obviously they've chosen to go in a different direction."

The impending departure of McDonald follows last season's release of Merton Hanks, part of a Pro Bowl tandem at safety for the 49ers.

But the 49ers found a younger replacement for Hanks in Lance Schulters, who earned a Pro Bowl berth in his first season as starter. And San Francisco has two candidates to replace McDonald Zack Bronson and Pierson Prioleau at a fraction of McDonald's cost.

Woodall, regarded as one of the top pass-covering linebackers in the league, was a six-year starter for the 49ers, earning Pro Bowl berths in 1995 and 1997.

Washington has played for the New York Jets, Denver Broncos and 49ers during an 11-year career.

General manager Bill Walsh has spoken to Young's agent, Leigh Steinberg, about restructuring the quarterback's contract as well as Young's football future. Young missed the last 13 games of the season after a hard hit at Arizona left him with his fourth concussion in three years.

Steinberg said he and the 4ers are working toward a restructured deal, however Young has delayed a decision on whether to resume his career until after his scheduled marriage in mid-March.

"To help them make some progress this week, we would accommodate them with a restructuring," Steinberg said. "And Steve would postpone the decision as to his future for a while. He's focusing on other fronts now anyway."

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