San Francisco general manager Terry Donahue also will try to
trade Owens, who missed a deadline last month to void the final
three seasons of his contract. He still is under contract to the
49ers, pending a grievance filed by his agent, David Joseph.
"I think it's very improbable that he would be back," Donahue
said Tuesday. "Both parties have agreed to pursue a trade very
actively in the next 72 hours."
Donahue dismissed a report that the 49ers would accept a draft
pick at the end of the first round in exchange for allowing Owens
to become an unrestricted free agent.
Owens caught 80 passes for 1,102 yards and nine touchdowns last
season -- his lowest totals since 1999. He has been selected to the
last four Pro Bowls while feuding with teammates, coaches, the
49ers' front office and the media.
Owens has been expected to leave San Francisco since early last
season, when he spoke of his interest in playing for other teams.
Joseph's mix-up might have cost Owens many millions in a new
contract, though any team that acquired Owens almost certainly
would sign him to a new deal.
"He's probably better off playing someplace else," coach
Dennis Erickson said. "That's pretty obvious. That's been there
for a long period of time."
The 49ers got under the salary cap Tuesday by releasing
quarterback Jeff Garcia and guard Ron Stone. They also restructured
the contracts of seven players: Pro Bowl fullback Fred Beasley,
tackle Scott Gragg, defensive tackle Bryant Young, center Jeremy
Newberry, safety Tony Parrish, defensive end Andre Carter and
linebacker Derek Smith.