SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The reuniting of Jim Harbaugh and quarterback Josh Johnson didn't last long.

Johnson was among 21 players cut by the San Francisco 49ers on Friday as the defending NFC West champions trimmed their roster to the 53-man limit for the start of the regular season — a day after he threw a pair of touchdown passes in a 35-3 victory over the San Diego Chargers in the final preseason game.

Harbaugh took a chance on the undersized Johnson at San Diego, developing the 5-foot-11, 145-pound Oakland Tech prep star into a record-setting college QB. But Colin Kaepernick emerged as the steady backup to Alex Smith and Scott Tolzien has been consistent enough to earn the No. 3 spot.

Running back and special teams standout Anthony Dixon made the team, while Rock Cartwright became the odd man out ahead of the opener Sept. 9 at Green Bay. Former Stanford star Chris Owusu also was cut, though he's a strong candidate for a spot on the practice squad.

The 26-year-old Johnson has a good chance of landing with a team still in need of quarterback depth. He started five games in four seasons with Tampa Bay and has completed 96 of 177 passes for 1,042 yards, five touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 26 career appearances.

When he joined the Niners in March, Johnson said it was no big deal the team already had three quarterbacks on the roster. He was thrilled to get a chance to learn more working for Harbaugh.

But even after a nice game Thursday, Johnson said he wasn't sure where he stood.

"We'll just have to find out," he said. "My biggest thing was just coming out and playing football, just being a football player. From the quarterback position, that's what I do best."

Harbaugh approached Dixon after Thursday night's game and congratulated him on a strong training camp and exhibition season.

Apparently, Dixon showed the 49ers enough on offense and special teams — and this is the guy who was considered a possible roster casualty when the 49ers added Brandon Jacobs during the offseason and drafted running back LaMichael James out of Oregon in the second round.

"I'll always have an uphill battle, but I think things have gone well," Dixon said Thursday night. "I hope I showed Coach enough. He told me I had a good preseason. I really like being on this team and I really love my teammates."

David Canter, the agent for linebacker Michael Wilhoite, posted on Twitter that his client would be re-signed to the practice squad if not claimed.

Also Friday, San Francisco traded safety Colin Jones to Carolina for an undisclosed draft pick.

The other cuts were: linebackers Ikaika Alama-Francis, Eric Bakhtiari, Cam Johnson, Kenny Rowe and Joe Holland, tackles Derek Hall, Mike Person, Kenny Wiggins and Al Netter, defensive tackles Tony Jerod-Eddie and Matthew Masifilo, cornerback Anthony Mosley, tight ends Kyle Nelson and Konrad Reuland, wide receivers Nathan Palmer and Brett Swain and safety Michael Thomas.


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