Cap hell is history for 49ers

February 24, 2012, 5:22 pm
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Programming note: Stay logged on toCSNBayArea.com all week long as 49ers Insider Matt Maiocco files reportsfrom the NFL scouting combine in IndianapolisINDIANAPOLIS -- The organization that coined the term "salary cap hell" has not felt any heat for nearly a decade.And the 49ers again have plenty of cap space this offseason with three weeks before the start of the new league year and the league-wide open of free agency.
The 49ers have already taken the necessary steps to roll over 12.6 million in unused cap space from 2011 to this year's salary cap, a league source told CSNBayArea.com.The 49ers have 103 million devoted to 2012 salaries, including 3.3 million that figures be cleared off the books when the 49ers part ways with cornerback Shawntae Spencer, whom the club has given permission to seek a trade.Last year, the salary cap was 120.375 million, so the 49ers figure to have well more than 30 million in available cap room to enact their offseason plan.The team has 19 free agents, including starters quarterback Alex Smith, guard Adam Snyder, receiver Joshua Morgan, outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks, and defensive backs Carlos Rogers and Dashon Goldson.RELATED: Complete list of 49ers free agents
Obviously, the 49ers will not re-sign all of their free agents, but coach Jim Harbaugh said there is a priority on bringing back as many of the players as possible."Knowing who they are, it makes you want to compete for them," Harbaugh said. "They are 49ers. They play like 49ers. They play their hearts out. You want those guys on your side. I know I value them a lot because we have evidence of what kind of people they are and how they play."How the 49ers value those players -- more than the restraints of the salary cap -- will be the issue in shaping the 2012 team.The 49ers have not felt the pinch of the salary cap since the organization purged its roster of high-priced players such as Jeff Garcia, Terrell Owens, Garrison Hearst, Derrick Deese and Ron Stone after the 2003 season. There were few cap concerns over the next seven years under 49ers capologist and chief negotiator Paraag Marathe. But there were few victories, too. The 49ers averaged 5.6 victories over the next seven seasons before the pieces fell into place last season with a 13-3 record in Harbaugh's first season.
General manager Trent Baalke works with Marathe to assign dollar values to every potential free agent. Baalke recently signed a contract extension through the 2016 season. Baalke intimated the 49ers are closer to "salary cap heaven" these days."I think Paraag does an outstanding job of managing the cap and putting us in a good position," Baalke said. "We have a great working relationship. We work very closely together to take a look at all our options and be a team that is very consistent with how we go about our business. That starts with Paraag's unbelievable skills in understanding and managing the numbers."