49ers Mailbag: Cap planning for next year

November 6, 2012, 5:42 pm
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The 49ers head back to work Tuesday for the first time since going into the bye week with a victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Oct. 29.Of course, it's Election Day and we're electing to answer some questions out of the 49ers Mailbag from our friends on Facebook . . . Q: The 49ers are only 500k under the salary. Is this a sign of salary cap problems next year or in the future? (Teddy Verdun)
The 49ers are a league-low 391,000 under the 2012 salary cap as of this morning, a league source tells CSNBayArea.com. But it appears as if the team's capologist, Paraag Marathe, has done a good job of setting things up for the team's future.For instance, knowing the 49ers would have some space to play with this year, the team a year ago restructured Patrick Willis' contract so that he would take up 17.6 million in cap space this year. Next year, Willis' cap number falls to just 3.6 million.The 49ers have 43 players under contract for next season at a cost of 118.6 million. The salary cap this year is 120.6 million. Here is a list of those with cap figures for next season of more than 4 million or non-starters at more than 2 million:QB Alex Smith 9.75 million
TE Vernon Davis 8.3 million
DT Justin Smith 8 million
CB Carlos Rogers 7.1 million
OLB Ahmad Brooks 6.556 million
RB Frank Gore 6.45 million
WR Michael Crabtree 5.77 million
C Jonathan Goodwin 5.02 million
WR Mario Manningham 4.88
S Donte Whitner 4.83 million
DT Ray McDonald 4.25 million
OLB Parys Haralson 2.87 millionREVIEW: 49ers mid-season report
But the 49ers also have several scheduled free agents, including safety Dashon Goldson, nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga, tight end Delanie Walker, and receivers Randy Moss and Ted Ginn.It only goes to reason, however, that it becomes more and more difficult to manage the salary cap when the roster is comprised of better players who command bigger contracts.Exhibit A: All-Pro linebacker NaVorro Bowman, who is scheduled to be grossly underpaid at 750,000 next season. His next contract -- with the 49ers or some other team -- will give him a significant pay increase.
Q: At what point do Trent Baalke and Jim Harbaugh tire of Aldon Smith's off field issues and waive him? (John Drummond)
Given the choice over an outstanding player who finds himself in the middle of several off-field issues or a below-average player who is a choir boy, there's not a team in the NFL that will choose the lesser player.Smith was reportedly involved last week in an early-morning disturbance, according to reports out of Columbia, Mo. One report had Smith getting "jumped." Smith denied that report, via Twitter, and said he was OK."What Aldon said to us was the same as what he said publicly," Harbaugh said Monday. "And you also tend to take a man at his word. So I don't know that there's anything more to add."In the meantime, the 49ers will wave Aldon Smith, all right. They'll wave him onto the field as a key every-down player in the 49ers' defense.Q: With Moss, Manningham, Davis, Crabtree, Williams and Ginn, would you say we have our receivers for the next couple years? (Michael Rodriguez)
Randy Moss and Ted Ginn are not signed beyond this season, so I'm not sure if they'll be around after this season.Kyle Williams and LaMichael James are being groomed to be the return men in future seasons, so it's questionable whether Ginn is going to be on the 49ers beyond this season.We don't know what the future holds for Moss, either. I'm sure a lot of that will depend on the final eight regular-season games and playoffs.One player you failed to mention is A.J. Jenkins. Although he has made no impact as a rookie, Jenkins is signed for three more seasons. He figures to have an increased role every season.
Q: Because of their strong depth, the 49ers haven't used their draft picks this year. With Andrew Luck playing so well, what if we traded our draft class for the 1st pick last year and drafted Luck? (James Stark)
When teams have a chance to land a franchise quarterback, they must take advantage of that rare opportunity.If the Colts had made that trade with the 49ers, first-year general manager Ryan Grigson would have no chance of making it to his second year with that job title.