The 49ers on Thursday released veteran cornerback Shawntae Spencer, a move that clears 3.3 million in salary cap space."The 49ers would like to thank Shawntae for his eight years of service to the organization and the Bay Area community," 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said in a statement."He has always represented himself, his family and this organization with the utmost class. We wish him, and his family, the very best."RELATED: Spencer's kindness strikes chord with lifetime 49ers fanSpencer opened training camp last season as a presumptive starter, but he sustained a hamstring injury that sidelined him for several weeks. He saw limited action throughout the season. Even when he was healthy late in the season, Spencer was the 49ers' No. 5 cornerback and was inactive for both playoff games.After the season, the 49ers gave Spencer permission to seek a trade, as it was clear that the 49ers would not bring him back at his scheduled salary.A second-round pick in the 2004 draft, Spencer saw action in 97 games with the 49ers with 72 starts. He started every game in the 2009 and 2010 seasons before playing just nine games with no starts last season.The 49ers began the day with 20.2 million in cap room. That figure includes the 1.6 million credit given from an NFL ruling that punishes Washington and Dallas for actions during the uncapped year. It does not include Carlos Rogers' new contract, which has yet to be signed.
George Paton, one of the remaining possibilities for the 49ers’ general manager position, is reportedly on the Indianapolis Colts’ list of candidates to fill their vacancy, too.
The Colts have requested permission to speak with Paton, the assistant general manager of the Minnesota Vikings, Tom Pelissero of USA Today reported on Monday.
Paton is scheduled for a second interview with the 49ers on Friday, along with Atlanta offensive coordinator and San Francisco’s presumptive head coach, in Atlanta.
The Colts also requested permission to interview Seattle co-directors of player personnel Trent Kirchner and Scott Fitterer, USA Today reported. Kirchern and Fitterer also interviewed with the 49ers. Kirchner pulled his name from consideration, while the 49ers informed Fitterer he would not be asked back for a second interview.
The Colts fired general manager Ryan Grigson on Saturday. Owner Jim Irsay said Indianapolis’ vice president of football operations Jimmy Raye III would be a candidate. The 49ers also interviewed Raye, who was informed he would not be included in a second round of interviews.
Arizona vice president of player personnel Terry McDonough is the other known candidate for the 49ers’ general manager position that opened when the firing of Trent Baalke was announced at the conclusion of the team’s 2-14 season.
Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent. His uncertain status has led to speculation presumptive 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan will be interested in acquiring him in the offseason.
On Sunday, Cousins got a first-hand look at his former coach’s offense.
Cousins posted a photo on Instagram from the stands at the Georgia Dome, where the Atlanta Falcons and their high-octane offense blasted the Green Bay Packers, 44-21, in the NFC Championship game.
Cousins wrote the caption, “Watching two of the best in the world do what they do & taking notes to make it to this game next year -score a lot of points!”
Washington finished third in the NFC East and out of the playoffs with an 8-7-1 record.
Shanahan, the Falcons’ offensive coordinator, coached Cousins for the first two seasons of his NFL career with Washington on the staff of his father, Mike Shanahan. Cousins appeared in just eight games with four starts in 2012 and ’13.
Cousins' career has taken off in the past two seasons while starting all 32 regular-season games. He completed 67 percent of his passes this season with 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions and a passer rating of 97.2.
Washington placed the franchise tag on Cousins this season at nearly $20 million. He franchise tag is expected to be approximately $24 million in 2017.
If Washington places the non-exclusive franchise tag on Cousins, a team could sign him to an offer sheet at the cost of two first-round draft picks or negotiate a trade with Washington for a lesser amount.