The 49ers have yet to make any cost-cutting moves this offseason. A year ago, they released veteran cornerback Carlos Rogers to gain cap relief.
Recently, general manager Trent Baalke all but guaranteed tight end Vernon Davis would be on the team in 2015. The 49ers could have saved $4.9 million in cap space with his release.
And Baalke strongly suggested the 49ers were committed to paying linebackers Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman their full salaries for the upcoming season, too. Willis, who is scheduled to earn $8.315 million, is a strong candidate for a restructured deal that would pay him his full amount while significantly reducing his salary-cap figure.
Teams that make post-June 1 designations on their releases create cap savings the equivalent of the player’s scheduled salary for the upcoming year. But the remaining proration on the contract accounts for “dead money” on the next season’s cap.
Here are some of the other players with high salaries scheduled for the upcoming season and how much money they could save with post-June 1 designations:
QB Colin Kaepernick: The 49ers could save $12.8 million in cap space, but there is no chance they are going to part ways with a player they still envision as their long-term quarterback.
OLB Aldon Smith: The 49ers picked up the fifth-year option at $9.754 million for this season. Their defense is dependent on him returning to elite status as a pass rusher before potentially becoming a free agent in 2016.
OLB Ahmad Brooks: His salary de-escalated due to his down season, but the 49ers would still save $4.35 million if they parted ways. Aaron Lynch is seemingly ready to take over as an every-down player in his second season.
WR Stevie Johnson: Is he a $6 million receiver? Baalke declined to answer that question at the NFL Scouting Combine. After the 49ers invested a fourth-round pick in him, it would not be wise to get rid of him after just one season. Johnson has yet to be approached about a possible pay cut from his $6.025 million salary, a source told CSNBayArea.com. As long as the 49ers are comfortably under the cap, there’s no hurry to resolve this issue.
WR Anquan Boldin: Is he a $6 million receiver? The correct answer is yes. He had his second consecutive 1,000-yard season since coming to the 49ers in a 2013 trade. And there's no question he's the No. 1 receiver with Michael Crabtree scheduled to hit free agency.
K Phil Dawson: He was not as rock solid last season as he was in his first year with the 49ers. He made 80.6 percent of his field goal attempts (25 of 31), and that was his lowest percentage since 2006. If the 49ers release him (that’s risky, without an replacement), it would save the team $3.134 million.
S Craig Dahl: He accepted a pay cut in February of last year to avoid getting cut. He is scheduled to $1.7 million in salary and bonuses.
OT Jonathan Martin: Former coach Jim Harbaugh was instrumental in acquiring Martin to serve as a backup. The 49ers would like to upgrade their “swing tackle,” so Martin is not safe with his scheduled $1.042 million salary.
DL Justin Smith: The 49ers are certainly not going to cut him. But if he retires, the 49ers would save $4.25 million in cap space. Smith has contemplated retirement after each of the past three or four seasons. The answer every offseason has been “one more year.” He is scheduled to enter the final year of the contract he negotiated for himself in June 2013.