49ers Create Massive Cap Space in 2 Star Contract Restructures

John Lynch, 49ers GM

Getty John Lynch, 49ers GM

It’s not easy to sign a player, even one as good as 49ers edge rusher Nick Bosa, to a record-setting contract extension, one worth $170 million over five years. In order to do so, general manager John Lynch and the San Francisco brain trust had to reconfigure some other commitments, and managed it by getting two of the team’s top (and highest-paid) other players—tight end George Kittle and left tackle Trent Williams, to restructure their contracts.

The total savings, according to ESPN’s Field Yates, was $23.2 million, giving the 49ers significant room in the short term and easing some of the team’s long-term burdens, too.

According to Spotrac, the 49ers now rank second in the NFL, behind the Cleveland Browns (who have a whopping $38.8 million) in overall available cap space. The 49ers have $24.6 million on hand, putting San Francisco in position to make yet another major roster move if one becomes available or necessary.

Details of Kittle, Williams Restructured Deals

According to Spotrac, the 49ers took $10.57 million of Kittle’s 2023 base salary of more than $11 million and turned it into signing bonuses, tacking one so-called “void” year in 2026 which essentially guarantees that Kittle will get more than $6 million that year whether he plays or not. Kittle’s restructure created, according to the site, $8.33 million in cap space.

Kittle is signed through 2025, having agreed to a five-year, $75 million pact back in August 2020.

Also, according to Spotrac, the Trent Williams move was even bigger in terms of creating space. Williams agreed to have $18.235 million of his contract dispersed into signing bonuses, also with one void year, worth $3.65 million, in 2027.

Williams is signed through 2026, having agreed to a six-year, $138 million contract with San Francisco in 2021.

Where Could 49ers Use an Upgrade?

As for making a trade, there is not much on the 49ers’ roster that could use an upgrade. According to Pro Football Focus’ unit rankings, the 49ers rank in the Top 4 in four areas—running back (No. 1 overall), wide receiver (4), defensive line (2) and linebacker (1).

The defensive backfield ranks No. 9 on the Pro Football Focus list, but remains an area of concern with the departure of nickel corner Jimmie Ward to Houston in the offseason. There is no clear successor for Ward, and defensive coordinator Steve Wilks said last month that the 49ers would approach the corner slot position, with “a Rolodex of players,” basically meaning he’d figure it out with the guys he has on the roster.

The bigger concern could be the right side of the offensive line. While the left side is very much set with Williams, who has been a Pro Bowl player for 10 consecutive years, and guard Aaron Banks, but the right side—with Spencer Burford and Colton McKivitz—has question marks. It’s unlikely the 49ers would make an in-season trade for a lineman, but I’s a possibility.

Oh, and the quarterback situation for the 49ers is not quite settled—Brock Purdy is, after all, a second-year player who was a seventh-round pick, has five NFL starts under his belt and is coming off elbow surgery. Again the Niners, who have veteran Sam Darnold behind Purdy, are unlikely to make a trade for a quarterback during the season, but could if it became necessary.

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