The Duel

3 49ers That Could Be Cut or Traded if the Salary Cap Drops in 2021

Tristan Jung
Laken Tomlinson before a game against the Cardinals.
Laken Tomlinson before a game against the Cardinals. / Michael Zagaris/Getty Images
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The San Francisco 49ers are set to have some major salary cap issues in 2021 and beyond. After a tough Super Bowl loss last year, the roster is now filled with talented young stars that will all be searching for a paycheck.

In addition, the revenue-damaging effects of the COVID-19 pandemic mean that the 49ers might have less money to work with in 2021 due to a reduced salary cap. We've looked at three 49ers players who could be in jeopardy if the salary cap does indeed drop.

1. Laken Tomlinson, G

Laken Tomlinson was the 49ers starting left guard in 2019.
Laken Tomlinson was the 49ers starting left guard in 2019. / Brandon Magnus/Getty Images

Laken Tomlinson has been a solid addition to the 49ers after being acquired from the Detroit Lions in 2017. But while he's started 47 games at left guard, he's also on a lucrative three-year, $16.5 million contract. Tomlinson is a good but not great offensive lineman who could start for many teams. But the 49ers are in a bind, so they might need to deal him. After all, they were already forced to trade DeForest Bucker to the Indianapolis Colts this season due to financial constraints. With George Kittle, Solomon Thomas, Kyle Jusczczyk, Tevin Coleman, Akhello Witherspoon, Kendrick Bourne, Trent Williams, and Jaquiski Tartt all probably seeking extensions, Tomlinson might be an unfortunate casualty of financial necessity. Cutting him would save the Niners $5 million.

2. George Kittle, TE

George Kittle was one of the league's best tight ends in 2019.
George Kittle was one of the league's best tight ends in 2019. / Jamie Squire/Getty Images

George Kittle is coming off yet another spectacular season where he won All-Pro recognitino for his skills as a brilliant pass-catcher and blocker. Unfortunately, Kittle is approaching free agency and both camps are still far apart on a contract. The negotiations will drag on through the fall, and any potential cap hit would hurt their ability to sign Kittle, who will likely become the league's highest-paid tight end. This would be a massive loss for the 49ers, but the potential of a sign-and-trade or letting him walk has increased exponentially in recent months. However, this is just about the last guy the Niners want to lose, so expect them to do whatever they can within reason to keep him in town.

3. Mark Nzeocha, LB

Mark Nzeocha celebrates during last year's Super Bowl.
Mark Nzeocha celebrates during last year's Super Bowl. / Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Mark Nzeocha is a solid backup linebacker and special teams player, but he could be another unfortunate victim of the 49ers' cap issues. A cap reduction would hurt their ability to keep Nzeocha, who will be 31 years old in 2021 and on a deal through 2022. While this would be a relatively minor transaction, the 49ers will need to save all the money they can get, making Nzeocha more expendable than he would normally be. He should find suitors quickly, however. San Fran would save $1.5 million for letting him go early.


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Tristan Jung is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Tristan Jung also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username tristan1117. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.

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