While coach Jim Harbaugh and the San Francisco 49ers are in the midst of a very real Super Bowl run, it isn’t too early to examine the state of next year’s salary cap. That way, NFL followers can fully grasp and appreciate this window the 49ers have in front of them.
It’s not often you see this kind of assemblage of talent.
That being said, it’s going to be difficult to keep it together, especially for a team strapped for cash. Sixteen clubs have at least $10 million in cap space in 2014, while the 49ers are currently situated with the 19th most in the league ($6.29M), per OvertheCap.com.
That puts them in the bottom half of the NFL, which is no surprise, given their plethora of talent.
So there will be casualties.
This is a scary time for the 49ers, since they know they won’t be able to extend everyone they’d like to.
A team can’t pay a top-10 quarterback, a top-10 receiver, a top-five guard and a top-five pass-rusher in the span of an offseason—if at all. The salary cap won’t allow teams to corner the market like that.
Not to mention all of the utility players that have stepped up in between.
Nevertheless, general manager Trent Baalke and chief operating officer Paraag Marathe have as fluid a system as any.
Between their contract language and rapport with their players, they have an opportunity to optimize the cap each season. Even still, 2014 could be their greatest challenge yet, and some unpopular decisions may be on the horizon.