SAN DIEGO - SEPTEMBER 19: Linebacker Shawne Merriman #56 of the San Diego Chargers comes off the line of scrimmage against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Qualcomm Stadium on September 19, 2010 in San Diego, California. The Chargers won 38-13. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Shawn Merriman
Since San Francisco 49ers Faithful might have a hard time getting excited over facing another five-loss team this Sunday at Carolina, the topic du jour often changes to exiled San Diego Charger linebacker Shawne Merriman.
The Chargers no longer want Merriman, and it is widely reported they will release him. Merriman still wants to play. The 49ers are interested, with 49ers defensive coordinator Greg Manusky telling the Sacramento Bee that Merriman "was outstanding when I had him (in San Diego). I loved everything about the kid."
So why is Merriman not already in Santa Clara, wearing a 49ers uniform, with the lights out?
Per NFL rules, a team cannot release a player who is injured. Merriman's calf is still recovering from an injury suffered in week two against Seattle. This injury is not bogus.
Only after Merriman is able to pass a physical and receive a clean bill of health can he be released from the Chargers.
After being waived by the Chargers, the other 31 NFL teams have until 4 p.m. Eastern Time / 1 p.m. Pacific Time to put a claim on Merriman. Merriman would then be awarded to the team with the worst record that claimed him.
Currently, the 49ers are behind the 0-5 Buffalo Bills and Carolina Panthers on that pecking order.
If Merriman gets past those two teams, the Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns have the same 1-5 record as the 49ers.
But the Browns lose the tiebreaker, which is conference record. The Browns have one win within their own conference, while the Lions and Niners are winless in the NFC.
Then we go to division record, where the 49ers' one divisional loss loses out to Lions' three divisional losses.
So right now, the 49ers are fourth in line for Merriman when he becomes available.
But all of these win-loss records will change when more games are played on a given Sunday. And it may be a few of these given Sundays before Merriman is released.
Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who's waiting for the Tonga Room to clear waivers.