49ers to part with NT Earl Mitchell

The 49ers will have a new man in the middle in 2019.

In a move that was foreshadowed late in the season, the 49ers will not pick up the option on the final two years of nose guard Earl Mitchell’s contract, the team said.

Mitchell, 31, who will become an unrestricted free agent, was replaced in the starting lineup by D.J. Jones for the final four games. He played just one defensive snap in those games and was inactive for the final two contests.

Mitchell was scheduled to earn a 2019 base salary of $2.85 million, with no money guaranteed. Jones, 24, a 2017 sixth-round pick, will earn a base salary of $645,000 next season.

Mitchell started 28 straight games for the 49ers after signing a four-year contract last year. In 2018, Mitchell was a key part of a run defense that ranked 14th in rushing yards allowed, seventh in yards per attempt and allowed one 100-yard rusher in his 12 starts.

“Earl, I think, has had a very good year,” head coach Kyle Shanahan said last month. “I think Earl’s been better this year than last year. … But it came a time when we had to sit Earl down and tell him it was nothing against him. But we needed to see what D.J. could do.”

It’s possible the 49ers will also part with wide receiver Pierre Garcon, 32, and inside linebacker Malcom Smith, 29, who are both coming off injury plagued seasons. Garcon and Smith are scheduled to earn more than $9 million in combined base salary next season, but none is guaranteed. The 49ers have an option on Garcon’s 2019 contract.

In December, Shanahan acknowledged the 49ers could part with Mitchell, Garcon and Smith after the season.

“Those guys understand the business,” Shanahan said. “They understand how it works.”

Twitter: @Eric_Branch

This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/49ers/article/49ers-to-part-with-NT-Earl-Mitchell-13555740.php.

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