The 49ers will not pick up the option on the final two years of nose guard Earl Mitchell’s contract, Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Mitchell, 31, who will become an unrestricted free agent, was replaced in the starting lineup by D.J. Jones for the final four games. Mitchell played just one defensive snap in those games and was inactive for the final two games.
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.
“Earl’s been a fantastic asset to this entire organization, all the things that he’s done,” defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said to reporters at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. “It’s an opportunity for other guys to step up. And it will not be easy to try to replace him, for sure.”
Mitchell started 28 consecutive games for the 49ers after signing a four-year for the 49ers after signing a four-year contract last year. In 2018, he was a key part of a defense that ranked 14th in rushing yards allowed (113.4), seventh in yards per attempt (4.1) 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 (there) 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.”