SANTA CLARA –- The 49ers’ most-productive player during the exhibition season was delivered bad news on Saturday.
Outside linebacker Marcus Rush, who led the NFL with six sacks in the preseason, was among the 20 players the 49ers released to reach the regular-season roster limit of 53 players.
“Very difficult, and it was nothing really to do with Marcus, but we’re going to go with three outside linebackers on the 53-man roster,” 49ers coach Chip Kelly said o a conference call with reporters.
“Obviously, that was difficult for Marcus and how productive he was, but it came into a numbers game. We’re going to keep five inside linebackers. We planned on keeping eight linebackers, and the work Nick Bellore and Michael Wilhoite give you on special teams were huge for us.”
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A fourth outside linebacker will likely be on the roster after the fourth week of the regular season when Aaron Lynch is eligible to return off the reserve/suspended list.
The 49ers also kept three running backs, waiving DuJuan Harris and rookie Kelvin Taylor on Saturday. Kelly said starting running back Carlos Hyde is still in the concussion protocol, but he is expected to be ready for the start of the regular season on Monday, Sept. 12, against the Los Angeles Rams.
Shaun Draughn and Mike Davis are Hyde’s backups.
“I think we have a lot of really running backs and we have depth decisions at certain positions: linebacker, secondary, running back that made it difficult for us,” Kelly said. “We can’t keep them all.”
Here is a look at the 49ers’ initial 53-man roster:
Running back (3)
Wide receiver (5)
Tight end (4)
Offensive line (9)
Defensive line (7)
Outside linebacker (3)
Inside linebacker (5)
K Phil Dawson
P Bradley Pinion
LS Kyle Nelson (LS)
OLB Aaron Lynch (four games)
WR Bruce Ellington
QB Thad Lewis
WR Eric Rogers
DL Ian Williams