Analyzing Potential 49ers Salary Cap Casualties in the 2014 Offseason

Tyson LanglandNFC West Lead WriterFebruary 11, 2014

Analyzing Potential 49ers Salary Cap Casualties in the 2014 Offseason

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    Paul Sakuma/Associated Press

    Head coach Jim Harbaugh and general manager Trent Baalke have assembled one of the deepest and most gifted rosters in the NFL. They have done so by hitting on multiple picks late in the draft, re-signing key contributors on both sides of the ball and bringing in outside talent when need be.

    Nevertheless, the time has come for the front office staff to re-sign wide receiver Anquan Boldin, safety Donte Whitner and cornerback Tarell Brown.

    To keep those guys in uniform, Harbaugh and Baalke have some tough decisions to make. Aging and underperforming players with bloated contracts will have to be sent packing.

    That's the only way the 49ers will be able to keep pace in the ever-so-talented NFC West. With a current salary-cap figure of $122,968,692 according to Spotrac, let's take a look at five different salaries San Francisco should consider disposing of during the offseason.

     

    Unless otherwise noted, all cap numbers via Over the Cap and all statistics via Pro Football Focus (subscription required).

OL Adam Snyder

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    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    2014 Cap Hit: $1,300,000

    Dead Money If Cut: $250,000

    Cap Savings If Cut: $1,050,000

     

    Why He Might Be a Salary-Cap Casualty

    Snyder is 32 years of age, he’s set to be the highest-paid offensive backup in 2014 and he’s a liability in pass protection. In 202 pass-block snaps this past season, the former third-round pick surrendered three quarterback sacks, two quarterback hits and 12 quarterback hurries.

    This means he allowed a quarterback pressure once every 11 snaps in pass protection. For a guy who is set to make $1.3 million, that’s simply not good enough.

    The 49ers could garner that type of production at a much cheaper rate by drafting a versatile offensive lineman in the mid-to-late rounds. 

    Under the watchful eye of Baalke, San Francisco's front office has a proven track record of hitting on offensive linemen in the draft. 

     

    Why He Might Not Be a Salary-Cap Casualty

    Despite his shortcomings in pass protection, Snyder can still move people as a run-blocker. According to the analysts at Pro Football Focus, he was awarded a plus-3.1 run-block grade over 222 run plays.

    Furthermore, he can play every position on the offensive line. Over the course of his nine-year career, he has played at least one snap at left tackle, right tackle, center, left guard and right guard.

CB Carlos Rogers

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    2014 Cap Hit: $8,094,531

    Dead Money If Cut: $2,989,063

    Cap Savings If Cut: $5,105,468
     

    Why He Might Be a Salary-Cap Casualty

    As good as Rogers has been for the 49ers, the organization would be foolish to pay him $8,094,531. If the 32-year-old corner was still playing at the level he played at in 2011, his salary wouldn’t be an issue. Unfortunately, he’s no longer capable of playing at that level.

    In 2013, he proved that to be true time and time again.

    According to PFF, opposing quarterbacks amassed a quarterback rating of 84.9 when throwing into his coverage area. They also scored three touchdowns and completed 60.2 percent of their passes on 98 attempts. No wonder he was the 19th-most targeted cornerback in the NFL.

    More often than not, wide receivers abused his soft coverage.


    Why He Might Not Be a Salary-Cap Casualty

    Rogers would be wise to take a pay cut. That’s the only way he won’t be a salary-cap casualty in the offseason.

    The 49ers don’t have a great deal of viable depth at the cornerback position, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone if they approach Rogers about a pay cut prior to cutting him. However, there’s no guarantee he would accept the reduced deal.

    Here’s what he told Matt Barrows of The Sacramento Bee:

    The last three years, I played the most snaps on this whole team, period. Why would I take less? That was our approach last year. This year? It may be something different. I know the average for a cornerback - the average - is still high.

    Does Rogers really think the cost for an average corner on the open market is high? He and his agent need to do some research and weigh their options before he declines a pay cut for the second straight year. 

WR Jonathan Baldwin

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    2014 Cap Hit: $1,404,765

    Dead Money If Cut: $0

    Cap Savings If Cut: $1,404,765
     

    Why He Might Be a Salary-Cap Casualty

    Even though Baldwin was a highly touted prospect once upon a time, he failed to contribute when San Francisco needed him to the most.

    When wide receiver Michael Crabtree was sidelined with a torn Achilles, the 24-year-old pass-catcher logged 107 snaps, tallied three receptions on eight targets and picked up 28 receiving yards.

    Obviously, the 49ers were hoping Baldwin would benefit from a change of scenery, yet that didn’t happen. It seemed as if he never caught on to the playbook, which ultimately led to his demise. He didn’t see a single snap after Crabtree returned from his gruesome injury in Week 13.

    Undoubtedly, Baldwin will be donning a different uniform in 2014. His $1,404,765 salary is too outlandish in correlation to his on-field production. Plus, there’s no penalty if the team cuts him. The 49ers would be smart to use the $1,404,765 in savings on a free-agent wideout.


    Why He Might Not Be a Salary-Cap Casualty

    The one thing Baldwin does have going for him is San Francisco’s lack of depth at the wide receiver position. Boldin and Mario Manningham are both scheduled for unrestricted free agency.

    Aside from the lack of depth at the receiver position, Baldwin doesn’t have any value. He was a bust for the Kansas City Chiefs and is a bust for the 49ers.

RB Frank Gore

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    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    2014 Cap Hit: $6,450,000

    Dead Money If Cut: $0

    Cap Savings If Cut: $6,450,000
     

    Why He Might Be a Salary-Cap Casualty

    Yes, Gore has been the most consistent player on San Francisco’s roster for the last nine years, yet it’s evident that he is slowing down. His yards-per-carry average of 4.1 in 2013 was the lowest output of his career, he forced fewer missed tackles than he did in 2012 and only registered three 100-yard games.

    Moreover, PFF had him as the 12th-best running back in the league. Is an aging tailback worth $6,450,000? The 49ers are going to have to think long and hard about his contract situation.

    Marcus Lattimore, Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James are all waiting patiently to showcase their skill sets.

    Is the future now or do the 49ers believe Gore has enough left in the tank to finish out the final year of his contract?


    Why He Might Not Be a Salary-Cap Casualty

    Regardless of Gore’s declining numbers as a whole, he’s not totally washed up. In addition to eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark for the third straight year, he scored nine touchdowns, notched nine runs of 20-plus yards and improved as a pass-blocker.

    He also willed San Francisco to victory against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 14. The 49ers' win over the Seahawks that week was a crucial one because it gave them a leg up in the playoff race over the Arizona Cardinals and New Orleans Saints.

FS Craig Dahl

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    Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    2014 Cap Hit: $1,883,333

    Dead Money If Cut: $466,667

    Cap Savings If Cut: $1,416,666
     

    Why He Might Be a Salary-Cap Casualty

    Dahl has been everything the 49ers hoped he would be on special teams. However, the same can’t be said for his play on the defensive side of the ball. On 89 snaps, he was targeted once in coverage. On that one target, Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin burnt him to a crisp for a 51-yard gain.

    Outside of that one target, the 49ers were lucky that no other quarterback targeted him when he was filling in for rookie free safety Eric Reid.

    Dahl getting torched was nothing new. Prior to his arrival in San Francisco, it was a weekly occurrence for the sixth-year veteran when he played for the St. Louis Rams.

    Dahl regularly graded out as one of the worst coverage safeties in the NFL. Without a doubt, the Niners could cut their losses and draft an adequate backup who could perform better in coverage and play special teams.


    Why He Might Not Be a Salary-Cap Casualty

    As I mentioned above, Dahl’s greatest asset is his top-notch special teams play. He had eight combined tackles on special teams and finished the year with a plus-six special teams grade from the folks at PFF.

    He could also stick around for another year if the team fails to find his replacement in the draft. With a plethora of picks, though, the 49ers shouldn’t have any trouble finding an alternative to Dahl at half the price.