The 49ers’ decision to create salary-cap room with a conversion of linebacker NaVorro Bowman’s contract does not necessarily mean a high-priced extension is on its way.
And, it should be pointed out, Bowman did not make any sacrifice. His scheduled $4 million base salary for 2014 was changed to a $3.27 million up-front signing bonus and a fully guaranteed $730,000 salary.
The reshuffling of finances enabled the 49ers to reduce Bowman’s salary-cap figure from $7.05 million to $4.434 million. It also helps Bowman a little because it pushes more proration into the future. His contract runs through the 2018 season.
The 49ers now have $2.873 million in cap room. After signing first-round pick Jimmie Ward and the remaining other four draft picks, the 49ers salary cap will be a little more than $2 million with only the Top 51 players counting before the final cuts.
On June 1, the 49ers will receive another $6.6 million in salary cap space when the contract for release veteran cornerback Carlos Rogers is wiped off the books.
Teams generally want approximately $5 million in salary cap space to open the season because of the likely event of more players being added to the roster to replace those who go on injured reserve.
The 49ers remain interested in securing a long-term contract extension with quarterback Colin Kaepernick, which would include a bump from his current cap figure of $1.63 million. In comparison, Joe Flacco’s first-year cap figure with the Baltimore Ravens was $6.8 million on a deal that averages $20.1 million.
So while the 49ers would have to make other contract adjustments to create all the space they need, Bowman’s deal was a logical first step.