All-Pro guard Mike Iupati is leaving the San Francisco 49ers and signed a free agent deal with the Arizona Cardinals.
The Arizona Cardinals got better on Monday and took away one of the best players from one of their division rivals with the signing of Mike Iupati, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
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Iupati, 27, was the No. 17 overall pick of the San Francisco 49ers out Idaho in the 2010 NFL Draft and quickly played his way into the starting lineup and has started all 75 of his career games. He missed one game with an injury in 2014 and four games in 2013, but has otherwise been a very durable and dominant left guard.
Iupati made the Pro Bowl in the last three seasons and was an All-Pro pick in 2012.
The 6-5, 329-pound Iupati turns 28 in May and picked the Cardinals over interest from the Buffalo Bills, New York Jets and Oakland Raiders.
His decision came as a bit of a surprise, but maybe it shouldn’t considering the team has been disappointed in former top-10 pick Jonathan Cooper who has been injured and ineffective since he was the No. 7 pick in the 2013 draft out of North Carolina.
Perhaps this takes some pressure off Cooper or maybe they’ll move him center or right guard where he can compete for playing time with the incumbents at that position.
The loss of Iupati is another in a long line of departures for the 49ers who began the day with the surprise retirement of Patrick Willis and the not so surprising retirement of Justin Smith. Further, the team is losing Frank Gore, is not expected to re-sign Michael Crabtree and released Stevie Johnson.
This all comes on top of the team letting go of Jim Harbaugh and most of his staff, including defensive coordinator Vic Fangio who was named to the same job with the Chicago Bears.
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