Niners Waive RB Phillips

The 49ers' decision to release Lawrence Phillips allowed the team to make as clean a break as they could with the troubled running back, notwithstanding pending grievances by both sides.

"It does bring some closure to this chapter but we don't regret doing it," coach Steve Mariucci said Wednesday, a day after the 49ers waived Phillips two weeks into his three-week suspension.

"We had a need. We had some holes to fill in our backfield in the middle of summer. We gave it our best shot and we tried to make it work and I think Lawrence did, too, for the most part."

Phillips, who previously lost jobs with the St. Louis Rams and Miami Dolphins over legal and disciplinary problems, was suspended Nov. 12 for refusing to practice and ignoring or defying his coaches.

Mitch Frankel, the agent for Phillips, did not immediately return a phone call Wednesday seeking comment. Frankel said Tuesday that Phillips was working out every day and hoped to hook on with another team.

In his only public comments on the case a week ago, Phillips denied refusing to practice but admitted he was unhappy over his diminishing role with the team. He was signed in July as a replacement for injured Garrison Hearst but lost a training camp competition to fellow free agent Charlie Garner and saw his playing dwindle during the course of the season.

"It was understandable that some frustration set it because Charlie Garner was having a good year, and Lawrence's role became less and less as we went along," Mariucci said. "It ended up to be maybe not a happy marriage and we parted ways. It's as simple as that and it's over now."

Not quite.

Phillips has filed a grievance seeking to overturn the suspension on grounds the punishment was excessive. The grievance, filed with the league through the National Football League Players Association, seeks to reclaim more than $38,000 in wages Phillips lost the past two weeks before being released Tuesday.

Frankel also said he'll file another grievance if the 49ers refuse to pay the deferred portion of Phillips' $425,000 signing bonus. San Francisco still owes Phillips $175,000, with a $100,000 installment due at the end of this month. The final $75,000 installment is due Jan. 31.

Director of football operations John McVay said Tuesday that Phillips breached his contract and the 49ers don't intend to pay the balance of the signing bonus.

McVay added that the 49ers plan to file a grievace of their own with the NFL Management Council seeking partial return of Phillips' signing bonus.

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