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Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

49ers now expected to have over $23 million in salary-cap space

Mar 5, 2021 at 5:31 PM-- updated its salary cap space page, and the San Francisco 49ers saw a jump in available space by about $11 million. That's good news for a team that was expected to have trouble re-signing some of its key impending free agents, let alone do anything of significance to add to its roster.

San Francisco was previously estimated to have about $12.5 million in salary-cap space heading into the new league year. That is based on a salary-cap figure of about $180.5 million per team, which has not been finalized. Still, it is a good starting point for an estimate, given the NFL and NFLPA recently notified teams that the floor had been raised from $175 million to $180 million.

Now, has the 49ers estimated to have about $23.5 million in cap space. Only eight teams—the Jaguars, Jets, Patriots, Washington, Colts, Bengals, Broncos, and Chargers—are expected to own more cap space than San Francisco. That differs depending on the resource you utilize, but I am using's numbers for this breakdown. The 49ers' cap-space number could increase further if the salary cap is set higher than expected.

Of course, these numbers don't account for today's signings of tight end Ross Dwelley and safety Marcell Harris to one-year deals, so the number is actually lower. As of this post, the details of the two contracts have not yet been reported.

The extra money reportedly comes from failed player incentives that are being rewarded back to the team. I reached out to Jason Fitzgerald, the salary-cap expert who manages, about the adjustment, and learned that even he didn't foresee the significant change.

"The 49ers had a massive cap adjustment for last year that caught me off guard," Fitzgerald responded. "Most of the other teams, I was within $500K to $1M of their adjustment. I was off on SF by like $10M. I'd really have to dig into it, but usually, for things this big, they would be for things like retirement money being recovered, insurance payments, large grievances being in the team's favor, etc..."

San Francisco can still carve out more salary-cap space with other moves, like parting ways with Weston Richburg. The center recently underwent his third surgery—this time hip surgery—since suffering a torn patellar tendon in 2019. His previous surgeries were on his knee—due to the initial injury—and shoulder, which forced him to miss all of last season. There is no timetable for his return.

The 49ers can save nearly $8 million by releasing Richburg post-June 1.

The bottom line is that San Francisco may not be as financially strapped as initially believed.

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