Keena Turner, Mike Wilson and Eric Wright, who played on all four San Francisco 49er Super Bowl championship teams, were left available to other teams as free agents in the NFL's Plan B marketplace Friday.
The 49ers also failed to protect tight end Brent Jones, who caught a touchdown pass in the 55-10 Super Bowl rout of Denver, and punter Barry Helton. The AFC champion Denver Broncos left three regulars off their protected list: linebacker Rick Dennison, tight end Clarence Kay and punter Mike Horan.
The list of 490 players released by the NFL includes several well-known names. They included several prominent quarterbacks: Doug Williams of Washington, the 1988 Super Bowl most valuable player who has been bothered by injuries the past two seasons; Tommy Kramer of Minnesota; Ron Jaworski of Kansas City and ex-Heisman Trophy winner Doug Flutie of New England.
The players may sign with any other team until April 1 with no compensation due their old teams. In addition, 274 other players had contracts that expired at midnight Thursday and are free agents subject to first refusal by their former clubs. Those players included Green Bay quarterback Don Majkowski and Minnesota wide receiver Anthony Carter.
If Turner, Wilson and Wright sign with other teams, it would leave quarterback Joe Montana and safety Ronnie Lott as the last 49ers to have played on all the championship teams. Turner is a linebacker, Wilson a wide receiver and Wright a two-time Pro Bowl defensive back who lost his starting job last season.
Altogether, the 49ers put 20 players on their Plan B list, including nose tackle Jim Burt, linebacker and special teams player Steve Hendrickson, defensive end Pete Kugler, running back Harry Sydney, guard Terry Tausch and running back Spencer Tillman.
Denver's list included running back-wide receiver Ken Bell, guard Keith Bishop, linebacker Scott Curtis, defensive back Mike Haynes, linebacker Bruce Klostermann, linebacker Tim Lucas, center Mike Ruether and running back Sammy Winder.
The Dallas Cowboys left unprotected defensive end Ed (Too Tall) Jones, a 14-year veteran who started his 200th consecutive game this season. The Giants left off running backs Joe Morris, out all last year with a broken foot, and his replacement, Ottis Anderson.