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Niners won't tag Peterson; nine released

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (Feb. 23, 2006) -- The San Francisco 49ers decided to let Pro Bowl linebacker Julian Peterson become an unrestricted free agent by not making him their franchise player.

The 49ers also released nine players, including receiver Johnnie Morton, cornerback Ahmed Plummer and defensive end Chris Cooper.

Peterson, who missed most of the 2004 season with a torn Achilles' tendon, was one of the team's most popular and productive players.

The free-agent signing period begins March 3.

San Francisco could have matched any deal he signed or gotten compensation if he left with the franchise tag, which they used on him two years ago.

The Niners made the moves to create room under the salary cap.

Plummer, who has played two years of a five-year contract, has been limited to nine games the past two seasons because of injuries.

Morton played 13 games last season, his first with San Francisco, and caught 21 passes for 288 yards.

Cooper spent last season on injured reserve with a shoulder injury suffered in training camp.

"The reality of the current NFL economic system is that you are forced to make some tough decisions that are not based entirely on the football field," coach Mike Nolan said in a statement.

The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2006, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved

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