Niners release former starting CB Thornton

Updated: August 1, 2006, 6:44 PM ET
Associated Press

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The 49ers released cornerback Bruce Thornton, who started 11 games for San Francisco last season, on Tuesday.

Thornton, a waiver-wire pickup from the Dallas Cowboys last September, unexpectedly won a starting job in San Francisco, making two interceptions and 40 tackles. But the 49ers made moves to improve their secondary this season, and coach Mike Nolan wanted Thornton to have a chance to catch on with another team.

Thornton is the second 2005 starter in the defensive secondary to be released by the 49ers during training camp. Ben Emanuel, who started seven games at safety, was released Sunday when San Francisco signed Mark Roman.

"It says the competition is much better than we had a year ago," Nolan said. "Both of them, I hope they get opportunities elsewhere. ... When you have competition, guys get better or they get pushed out of position. Both those guys got pushed out of position, I'd say."

The 49ers signed veteran free agent Walt Harris and traded for Sammy Davis to compete for the other cornerback spot opposite starter Shawntae Spencer. B.J. Tucker also has improved since last season, and rookie Marcus Hudson is getting more time at cornerback after practicing at safety earlier in the offseason.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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