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San Francisco 49ers: Potential Cap Casualties During Training Camp

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San Francisco 49ers: Potential Cap Casualties During Training Camp
Dave Martin/Associated Press

While it would be ideal if every player who made the San Francisco 49ers’ final 53-man roster made it for his talent on the field, that’s not always the case. The salary cap is inflexible, and with Colin Kaepernick’s extension on the books, as well as hold outs by Vernon Davis and Alex Boone, pennies may need to be pinched somewhere.

The 49ers are fortunate that they won’t have to cut any productive players to work under the salary cap. They’re not in a situation like Dallas was, where they had to cut DeMarcus Ware just to get under the cap. The 49ers have had to let free agents go in the past and will probably lose more in the future, but they’ve done a good enough job managing the cap to avoid having to absorb cap penalties just to field a roster.

Where the salary crunch will be felt the most, however, is at the bottom of the roster. It is well within the realm of possibility that decisions on who will fill out the depth of the roster will be based more on their salary cap hit as opposed to their potential. All things being equal, the team would keep the cheaper option at the position.

Let’s look at few roster-bubble candidates who might find themselves missing the 53-man roster as the 49ers look to trim their salary obligations on the back half of the roster.

 

Demarcus Dobbs

Scott Halleran/Getty Images
Demarcus Dobbs
Salary Bonuses Cap Hit Money Saved
$1,431,000 $0 $1,431,000 $1,431,000

Spotrac

Demarcus Dobbs saw quite a bit of action last year as a reserve defensive end. While he never saw 30 snaps in a game, he consistently came in off the bench, ending up with 336 defensive snaps in the regular season and postseason. He appeared in every game but the first due to a one-game suspension.

Dobbs is a rotational lineman and a very solid one. He, along with Tony Jerod-Eddie, basically came in to spell Justin Smith and Ray McDonald last season. The 49ers re-signed Dobbs this offseason as a restricted free agent, so the they were at least interested enough to bring him back.

Dobbscontract contains no guaranteed money, however, and that’s where things get interesting. As the season progressed, Dobbs began to see progressively less field time compared to Jerod-Eddie. The 49ers also have Tank Carradine getting ready to join the active roster right behind him.

While Dobbs was fairly effective as a replacement, he’s far from irreplaceable. He’d be a solid backup on most teams, but the 49ers may well decide they’re more than happy with the other players they have and part with Dobbs to save cap room.

 

Adam Snyder

Brian Bahr/Getty Images
Adam Snyder
Salary Bonuses Cap Hit Money Saved
$1,000,000 $3,000,000 $1,300,000 $1,050,000

Spotrac

Adam Snyder has basically been the 49ers’ primary offensive line backup the past few seasons. Snyder saw 424 snaps for the 49ers last season, including starting from Week 12 through Week 15 at left guard while Mike Iupati missed time with an injury. He was a regular starter with the team for much of his career, having started 73 games for San Francisco since he was drafted in 2005.

Snyder’s beginning to get up there in age, however. He turned 32 in January, which is getting old for a lineman. He’s someone the team is comfortable sliding into action in a pinch, especially as a run-blocker, but he’s not really a potential starter at the position.

He’s also been poor in pass protection, earning a minus-5.8 grade from Pro Football Focus (subscription required). Add in the just over $1 million in cap savings the 49ers would get from moving on from Snyder, and the writing seems to be on the wall.

The downside to getting rid of Snyder would be inexperience at the guard position should Alex Boone continue his holdout, or Boone or Iupati go down with injury. Joe Looney looked decent coming off the bench when Joe Staley got hurt, and the 49ers have plans for the future with Brandon Thomas, but there’s no one as experienced as Snyder should things go bad.

A possibility, if Snyder does get cut, is for Daniel Kilgore to slide from center to guard and to move rookie Marcus Martin in at center. It’s possible that Martin will beat out Kilgore for the center job anyway, and having Kilgore as your primary interior lineman backup would be a perfectly fine situation to have. Watch how the rookies develop; if they build quickly, we could see the end of Snyder.

 

Raymond Ventrone

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Ray Ventrone
Salary Bonuses Cap Hit Money Saved
$855,000 $0 $855,000 $855,000

Spotrac

Bubba Ventrone is a safety in name only. He didn’t see a single snap on defense last season but made nine tackles as one of the more consistent special teams assets on the squad.

Ventrone served as the punter’s personal protector last season. If you’re unfamiliar with the role, that’s what the New York Jets tried to do with Tim Tebow—he’s the guy who stands in front of the punter, behind the line of scrimmage, as the last line of defense on punts. That’s a pretty important special teams guy.

With the 49ers having a deep roster, however, special teams aces might find it hard to stick on the team. The 49ers might find the roster slots more useful for potential contributors on offense and defense. That’s not to say that the 49ers won’t keep any players for special teams, just that the competition might be tougher than usual.

Ventrone will find himself battling with the likes of Kassim Osgood, Darryl Morris and Blake Costanzo for roster spots. Looking at the breakdown of the slots, it seems likely that the 49ers will keep one, but not both, of Ventrone and Osgood. If it comes down to that, Osgood’s $570,000 cap hit might be enough to give him the advantage there.

 

Contract figures courtesy of Spotrac.

Snap counts courtesy of Pro Football Focus (subscription required)

Bryan Knowles is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report covering the San Francisco 49ers. Follow him @BryKno on Twitter.

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