49ers

NFL salary cap for 2017 up more than $12 million from 2016 season

NFL salary cap for 2017 up more than $12 million from 2016 season

NEW YORK -- The NFL salary cap for the upcoming season will be $167 million per team, up more than $12 million over last year.

The league and the NFL Players Association compile the cap from specific revenues, and it has risen annually. It was $143.28 million two years ago.

This is the fourth consecutive year the cap has risen at least $10 million.

Player benefits also are included under the 10-year labor agreement reached to end the 2011 lockout. That comes to $37 million per team, bringing the players' total compensation package to over $200 million per club for the first time.

In comparison, baseball had 12 teams with luxury-tax payrolls beyond $167 million in 2016.

Since 2011, the cap has increased by $47 million.

Also, 2017 is the first year of a four-season minimum spending period of 89 percent per club and 95 percent leaguewide.

The added cap room should have a major impact on teams' spending when the NFL's new year begins next Thursday.

"A lot," Seahawks general manager John Schneider said Wednesday at the NFL combine in Indianapolis. "It's an ongoing process, trying to make sure you can hang on to your top players all the time, what we view as our core players. A lot of times when we do those deals we're like: 'Hey, look, there's going to be some tough decisions that are made. There's going to be some guys that have to leave.' It's just part of the game.

"This year in particular I think you see there's a huge discrepancy in terms of cap space with a number of teams. It's what the NFL's about. It's about parity, and so you have those teams that are just going to be able to that much more than you possibly can. It's all about trying to move those pieces around and try to stay in the game with the free agents and your own free agents as much as you possibly can."

Seven players were given franchise tags this year: Redskins QB Kirk Cousins and Rams CB Trumaine Johnson, both for the second straight year; Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell; Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul; Cardinals LB Chandler Jones; Chargers LB Melvin Ingram; and Panthers DT Kawann Short. Only Cousins and Bell got exclusive tags, meaning no team can talk to them except their current club. Compensation would go to any team losing a non-exclusive franchise player in the form of two first-round draft picks.

Quarterback, of course, has the highest franchise tag tender at $21.268 million. Next is defensive end ($16.934 million), followed by wide receiver ($15.682 million). Then it's linebacker ($14.550 million), offensive line ($14.271 million), cornerback ($14.212 million), defensive tackle ($13.387 million), running back ($12.120 million), safety ($10.896 million), tight end ($9.78 million) and kicker/punter ($4.835 million).

Pittsburgh GM Kevin Colbert believes more teams are taking the path the Steelers usually do of developing players they draft and rewarding their own free agents.

"As a result, you're seeing less and less quality free agents (on the market)," Colbert said. "There's an inherent danger in that, because some of the players who are hitting the market with the number of dollars that are available might not be quite worth what they're going to get paid because of the supply and demand. And I think that's reflective in a lot of the early cuts, the five- and six-year-deal guys who usually get cut after two or three, because maybe they were oversigned.

"I think that it reinforces that you're wanting to sign your own and keep your own. But again, you have to be careful about the free agent market and not overpay for maybe an average player."

Yet, beginning next week, the money will flow to many free agents, even though this crop seems lacking in franchise-type players.

49ers' head coach Kyle Shanahan takes pride in speed of offense

49ers' head coach Kyle Shanahan takes pride in speed of offense

SANTA CLARA – If there is any validity to Matt Ryan’s complaint that former Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan struggled getting play calls to his quarterback in a timely fashion, it is difficult to find much evidence.

The past two seasons, only three teams went through an entire season without the play clock expiring on offense. The Falcons under Shanahan went without a delay-of-game penalty both of the past two seasons. The Denver Broncos of last season were the only other offensive unit in the NFL that was not penalized for the play clock hitting :00.

“Any play-caller that you talk to that’s usually one of the most important things and something I pride myself on a lot, is how quick can you get a play call into a quarterback,” said Shanahan, who will remain the playcaller for the 49ers while also serving as head coach.

"And the quicker you do the more comfortable it is, not just for him but the entire offense. They’re not panicked. They’re being able to move to the line. And with me as a coordinator personally, I try almost every situation to get it in as fast as possible. And I can be honest, there’s sometimes I do better than others. There are sometimes I don’t do it as good. There’s sometimes I do it real good.”

Shanahan said he took a lot of pride in the fact that the Falcons avoided any delay-of-game penalties the past two seasons. He said Ryan deserves credit, too.

“I was really proud of those guys on offense, which is a lot of credit to Matt and the rest of the guys, that regardless when we did get it in, two years straight without a delay of game and being the only team to even do that one year I think was a pretty impressive task,” Shanahan said. “We did a good job of that as a whole.”

In a recent interview with Pete Prisco of CBS Sports, Ryan was critical of Shanahan’s timeliness in delivering the play calls in the Falcons' collapse in Super Bowl 51. (It did not appear the Falcons' offense was scrambling to get to the line of scrimmage and get the ball snapped after the built a 28-3 lead.)

“Kyle's play calls -- he would take time to get stuff in," Ryan told Prisco. "As I was getting it, you're looking at the clock and you're talking 16 seconds before it cuts out. You don't have a lot of time to say, 'There's 16 seconds, no, no, no, we're not going to do that. Hey, guys, we're going to line up and run this.' You're talking about breaking the huddle at seven seconds if you do something along the lines.”

Shanahan said on Thursday that he wants his offense to play fast. Shanahan said he sets his offense so there is no need to audible out of a play if the defense is geared to stop the primary option on a particular call.

“If it’s not the perfect play, there’s usually four other options that you’ve just got to adjust to and either get an incompletion or get a smaller gain,” Shanahan said. “But, it’s not, ‘Hey, if I don’t call the perfect play, you check and get us into the perfect play.’

"I’ve been in systems like that and it’s just what your opinion is, and there’s really no right answer, but I was pretty happy with how our system worked in Atlanta. And I’ve been confident with players playing fast and not putting so much pressure on them to fix every play that the coordinator calls. I like to put a little more on myself and I want them when I do call a bad play, we’ll give you an answer."

Shanahan will continue to call the plays from the sideline. Quarterback Brian Hoyer said he insisted on working on the radio communication during the offseason program. Hoyer played in Shanahan's offense in 2014 with the Cleveland Browns, and he said that experience should help him relay the calls more smoothly to his teammates in the huddle.

"I kind of have a method of I want to be just outside the huddle when the play is coming out," Hoyer said. "I don’t want to be in the huddle trying to give the play while he’s talking to me. I want to hear him say the play in my helmet, take a second, get in the huddle and then call the play.

"Back in Cleveland when I was just learning the system I was just trying to repeat what he was saying, get it to the team and then as I’m walking to the line of scrimmage think of the play. Whereas now, I hear the play coming in and I can paint a picture of what Kyle is trying to emphasize on that play, and then relay it to the rest of the offense and break the huddle and go. We’ve been doing that I think pretty much since day one is using that coach-to-quarterback communication.”

49ers receive early vindication on selection of Reuben Foster

49ers receive early vindication on selection of Reuben Foster

SANTA CLARA – General manager John Lynch received the text message Wednesday from Dr. Tim McAdams that might have come as a surprise to many of the teams that passed on linebacker Reuben Foster during the draft.

The 49ers’ team physician declared Foster’s surgically repaired right shoulder is ready to play football. The 49ers are scheduled for their first practice of training camp on Friday, and Foster will be a full participant.

“We feel great about our doctors, our medical program here,” Lynch said on Thursday, as the 49ers reported to training camp. “Our trainer, Jeff Ferguson, is as good as there is in the league. Dr. McAdams, world-renowned. He has the Stanford name behind him.

“We challenged him numerous times. From his observation, the shoulder was good.”

Foster’s tumble to the back end of the first round was widely blamed on his shoulder condition. The 49ers traded with the Seattle Seahawks to select Foster with the No. 31 overall pick. Almost immediately, the 49ers were scrutinized for making the selection.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported some teams did not even consider drafting Foster. One “well-placed source with knowledge of the injury” told Schefter that Foster’s surgery “didn’t take.”

The 49ers’ willingness to clear Foster for the first day of camp is a reality that appears to be in stark contrast to the opinions around the league that Foster’s shoulder would require additional surgery. The 49ers expect Foster to be ready Sunday for the first padded, contact practice of training camp.

“We pride ourselves in doing all of our due diligence, not afterward, but before we make the decisions,” Lynch said. “We’d done exhaustive research on Reuben Foster in a lot of different areas. Medically was one area.”

Coach Kyle Shanahan said he the nature of Foster’s injury convinced him that even the worst-case scenario, in the big picture, was not so bad. Foster sustained a torn rotator cuff in Alabama’s national semifinal game against Washington and played the championship game against Clemson with the injury.

“I was proud of our doctors for putting themselves out there and giving their honest opinion about what they felt,” Shanahan said. “They feel it is healed, and it’s going to be good. I respect them for doing that. They went against the norm on that, and that isn’t always easy.

“(I’m) pretty confident when it is a shoulder injury, if it doesn’t heal the right way or it’s done wrong, you have to re-do a surgery, yes, it’s time, but it’s not going to affect the guy we saw on tape.”