The problem is the syntax around the borrow checker is the learning curve. And if you cut out that, you are basically back to plain-old-C.
Your question also doesn’t include if you are willing to compromise on any of Rust’s goals. Doing so would certainly let you make a simpler language, but then you don’t have what makes Rust Rust.
Here’s an example of someone who was involved in the design of Rust for a long time grappling with this question: https://boats.gitlab.io/blog/post/notes-on-a-smaller-rust/
Go sounds like what you're after. Or perhaps Java. Both are much simpler, memory-safe languages (with arguably other trade-offs). Or maybe Erlang?