Removing Alex Smith and David Akers: A Smart Financial Move For Niners

Feb 6, 2013 at 3:30 PM

Before I start examining 49ers' Salary Cap situation, I'd like to congratulate the 49ers' players, coaching staff, and loyal fans on a great season. There is no easy way to transition into the off-season after such a close and poorly officiated game, so I will just jump right in.

First, I'll cover SF's salary cap situation as it stands today.

Next, I will project how a few likely events will help our current financial situation.

Then I will go into SF's Free Agents.

SF 49ers Salary Cap Situation Today

As it stands today, the San Francisco 49ers are set to accrue ~$123.3 Million in the 2013 season against a predicted salary cap of ~121 Million. The approximated $123.3M includes committed money and dead money in addition to all 49er player's salary for 2013.


I'm defining "committed money" as the amount of money the 49ers owe to players as a result of incentives or contract stipulations (e.g. Alex Smith's contract from last year requires SF to pay him a minimum of $1.25M regardless of whether he is still on the team in 2013).

"Dead money" is a term used to represent money that is paid to players as a result of SF signing and then releasing these players. Yes, the money SF uses to sign and release football players during the preseason and for practice squad purposes DO count against the 49er's Salary Cap. This amount can vary, but in 49er's case is minute (~400k) compared to the salary cap.

Highly Likely Events to Take Place

1) SF is likely to trade or release Alex Smith, which will open 8.5M in salary cap money in 2013.

2) SF is likely to release David Akers, which will open up 3.5M in salary cap money in 2014.

Events That Should Take Place

1) Carlos Rogers should either be released, traded, or have contract reduced.

If Carlos is released or traded, SF will open up ~2.9M in salary cap money in 2013

2) Vernon Davis should have contract restructured.

Since Vernon is one of the individuals taking up the most cap space in 2013 and with plenty of cap space in 2014. It is likely SF will restructure his contract to open as much as 5M in cap space for the 2013 season.

3) Justin Smith should have contract extended.

Justin, who will turn 34 this year, is on his way to earning 8M in the final year of his contract. Considering his age and the competitiveness of this team in the next few years, Justin will likely restructure his contract, assuming that SF will extend his contract so he can play out his career in San Francisco. This should allow up to 4M in cap space for the 2013 season.

In summary, SF will have ~22M of cap space in 2013.

SF Free Agents

OG Leonard Davis
WR/PR Ted Ginn Jr
FS Dashon Goldson
LB Tavares Gooden
LB Larry Grant
DL Ricky Jean Francois
WR Randy Moss
NT Isaac Sopoaga
TE Delanie Walker

Without analyzing every player, the 2 players that are MUST signs are Dashon Goldson and Delanie Walker.

I assume Dashon Goldson will want a 5-year contract worth no less than 35M, with 20M in guaranteed (This is comparable to the Eric Weddle deal in 2011). This year, I think SF will come to terms with Dashon. This deal will take a 6.5M hit to the salary cap.

Delanie played on a 2M salary last year and should command a 4 year 15M with 8M guaranteed. Delanie has been one of the most underrated players on the team. This deal will take a 3M hit to the salary cap.

In Conclusion

SF can have as much as 22M in Cap Space, enough to resign Dashon Goldson and Delanie Walker and be active in the offseason. An important note is that SF also has 27 players retained through 2014 that accounts for half of a predicted 128M salary cap in 2014, so SF can pour costs over to 2014, if needed. With a stacked roster, plenty of cash and 14 draft picks, look for SF to go after big names in the off season.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


  • Joel Ayon
    Yeah ship them both to the eagles, their going to beast . Alex Smith was going to that next level , bad move to bench him. Eagles would be perfect for him , second arizona
    Feb 9, 2013 at 9:15 AM
    Response: Alex without Harbaugh will go back to his 2009 state. I'll be sorry for the team that picks him up.
  • jack
    Jim and his staff have to hang this loss on themselves. Gore's a stud and should have been utilized at that goal line play. Now having said that Jim let slip away a great special te am player in Castanza, I think that's how you spell it. He was a terror on special teams and we let him go,WHY? Also Jim and and his staff made numerous errors on getting his team prepared for the biggest game of their careers. We seem to have a problem deciding which plays to call. Don't they script their plays. What the heck is the problem calling the right play. Colin seemed confused alot on what they wanted executed. This team is awsome we just need the coaches to get their stuff together. I never seen Walsh to confused. The forty-niner teams then were a wrecking machine starting with Walsh. I'd like to see a devestating DL added and a cover corner. We can get a wr in free agency. And perhaps a future r/b. Just my observation.
    Feb 9, 2013 at 8:14 AM
    Response: I agree with Castonzo, but I'm sure Harbaalke did not anticipate this type of impact on the 49ers Special Teams.
  • Teresa
    I would have to say not a big Alex Smith at all, however, it is best to have a semi good quarterback as a back. It is always good to use both of them in different areas that they are best at. Two is better than one and will ultimately make for a better team.
    Feb 9, 2013 at 6:06 AM
  • charles
    Good analysis on the cap space insight.My question is what happens when Colin gets hurt and there's no legit backup to step an Alex Smith.Colin's style of play can be an injury waiting to happen--the Niners need Alex more than Alex needs the Niners.
    Feb 8, 2013 at 6:07 AM
    Response: I don't disagree with you, unfortunately, Alex will cost too much just to play a backup role. A lot of teams in our leagues don't carry starter-caliber backups. I think Scott Tolzien will be an excellent.
  • Zach Ameen
    My 49ers lost and I didn't have the heart to come to 49ers websites. Finally I got over it today. 1- Keep Alex Smith and use both QBs as a double punch with different pace of performance, especially in red Zone. 2- keep Akers and find someone in a Draft to train 3- Sign 2 vertical threat recievers (Wallace or Victor cruz or someone comparable. Find one in a draft) 4- Find a line backer like justin Smith either in a draft or through free agency 5- find two good either in a draft or through free agency 6- find one more defensive end (Cantee is available) 7- Find a powerful fullback 8- Improvement is needed on special team, Bring eith Castanzo back or some one like castanzo. 9- Start using third TE Garrett CELEK more because he has great hands and natural route runner. He reminded me of Brent jones but a better version. He really impressed me as a player.
    Feb 7, 2013 at 7:31 PM
  • Barb
    I would love to see David Akers back with the Eagles for the 2013-2014 season.
    Feb 7, 2013 at 6:24 PM
    Response: I'm sure Akers will retire as an Eagle. I doubt he will play again after this season.
  • MauiD808
    Thanks for the breakdown, I had been wondering where we stand with the cap. I'd like to see Sop stay as well. He was solid all year. Also it seems that Alex should bring something in a trade, maybe a pick or two for 2014, but I like the idea of bundling some of those 14 picks to move up and go for quality not quantity. The roster is already pretty loaded so not all rookies will make the squad. How about trading Alex & Carlos for Revis...would that fly? Having a lock down CB like Revis would make the D scary. Imagine if he was on Boldin all game instead of Cully.
    Feb 7, 2013 at 9:49 AM
  • Ladale
    Could probably look at the release of J. Goodwin, trade of a running back and another being picked up in the draft. They will address the receiver position either through free agency or the draft. Big names free agents are Wallace and Welker.
    Feb 7, 2013 at 4:44 AM
  • Troy
    just a few other notes I read from various sources. Ahmad Brooks didn't reach some incentives in his contract and the 49ers are supposed to be credited with some cap space. Also, I'd expect Parys Haralson to be released. He is taking up $2 million in cap room
    Feb 7, 2013 at 4:16 AM
    Response: I think 2M for depth at OLB is fine with me. Remember Parys was the league leader in sacks 2 years prior to Aldon Smith showing up.
  • Craig
    I am not sure which "big names" they should go after. Some secondary help would be nice. I wouldn't mind another WR. I always think there is no room for another receiver but come playoff time the team has been short. Another rotational d-lineman would be good and of course a kicker. Last year I thought they could never match those results but they did one better. This team should be Super Bowl champs, everyone says they shouldn't have let it be so close that the refs decided the game but the Ravens relied on that no call just as much. It still makes me sick, I wish I didn't care so much.
    Feb 7, 2013 at 2:49 AM
  • Alex Castaneda
    I feel like we played an awesome fuckin season an we're definitely on the right track!! Kaepernick has performed extremely well considering he'd only played 6 games this season.......... Give him this season under his belt with each of our inividually unique players to bring this franchise's newest weapon like fami I feel like we played an awesome season an we're definitely on the right track!! Kaepernick has performed extremely well considering he'd only played 6 games this season.......... Give him this season under his belt with each of our inividually unique players to bring this franchise's newest weapon like family and come out next season with vigilance and show this world wh o's real champions are!!!! "Go NINERS"
    Feb 7, 2013 at 1:06 AM
  • Greg Harms
    We need to seal the deal with Goldson, and if Davis' contract is restructured then I would re-think walker for resigning. I would rather keep Sopoaga, and try to seek out another receiver or corner.
    Feb 6, 2013 at 11:50 PM
    Response: Restructure doesn't necessarily mean that he will get more money, it just shifts money from one year to the next so that "legally" we can sign more players. VD will get the same amount of money at the end of the day.
  • Das Dweeb
    Well, except that Harbaalke have yet to acquire a single "big" name during their tenure. They've reportedly flirted with whomever the biggest was out there (Nnamdi, Peyton) but always fallen back on cheaper, more deeply scouted options that allowed them to maintain their salary structure (Whitner, Rogers). What big names would they go after this offseason? Mike Wallace? Wes Welker? Doesn't sound like their style. Maybe one of those stud DL (Johnson, Melton, Avril - maybe Seymour)? I'd love to see them pick up a stud DL who fits (read: justifies) Fangio's scheme and trade (Alex picks, maybe Culliver) for a star CB or high enough draft position to land an impact WR. We have 14 picks; hopefully we should be able to put together an attractive enough package to walk away from this offseason with difference-makers at DL, CB, and WR. Easy for me to say ...
    Feb 6, 2013 at 10:18 PM
    Response: On the contrary, Harbaalke has gone after Eric Wright, shortly before resigning Carlos Rogers after realizing that Eric Wright was out of reach. We acquired Randy Moss, Mario Manningham, and Brandon Jacobs. This is after SF rewarded Alex Smith, tagged D.Goldson, and I haven't even mentioned Peyton Manning, so with very little sample (only two years of Harbaalke), SF has been more active than prior years in Free Agency.
  • JTS
    Sounds good to me!
    Feb 6, 2013 at 9:39 PM
  • iJbug
    I agree with everything except a couple things: 1. Carlos Rogers should definitely not be released or traded, he had a GREAT first season with us. Yes his 2012 season wasn't the greatest, but that doesn't mean next year won't be good. 2. Some of the other free agents should be resigned. Larry Grant, Isaac Sopoaga, and Ted Ginn. -Everyone seems to have forgotten how well Larry Grant did while filling in for P.Willis last season. We should definitely draft someone to compete for the job but don't let him go to another team just yet. -Isaac Sopoaga, I don't know what there is to say besides "Give that guy a contract" He's a great player to put in when any of our DL players are tired. -Ted Ginn is an iffy one, I'm not saying its a no brainer, because we can definitely bring in someone else to replace him, but unless we can sign or draft another great return man, he's a sure resign. The only other good return man that we have on the team is LaMichael James... and Kyle Williams if you consider what he did while he was healthy during the 2012 season not 2011. We need to consider that special teams is what screwed us over these past two seasons !
    Feb 6, 2013 at 9:14 PM
    Response: I'm not sure SF will keep LG. He adds great depth, but is vulnerable in pass. To keep Grant, SF will likely need to sign him to a long term deal and for a backup, I don't think SF will do that. For me, TG has to contribute more than just a PR. Not only does he take up a WR spot, but he takes up a spot on the 46-man roster. If he had been more explosive this year, I would say go for it, but i'm having trouble with a guy that contributes so little.
  • Alex
    Issac is a MUST sign. Our dline has no depth. I think Walker will go just because he wants to be start and be featured. I agree Goldson is a must sign to. I also like Ricky for depth as well.
    Feb 6, 2013 at 8:31 PM
    Response: Resigning Sopaga and needing depth are not necessarily the same things. SF needs to decide what they want to do for depth at the DL position, but I am only up for signing Sopaga is the amount is less than 4M. I don't like RJF.
  • mike Lujan
    Can we pick up Greg Jennings for the Green Bay Packers
    Feb 6, 2013 at 7:24 PM
    Response: I think anyone is game at this point.
  • Mason
    Good analysis, but didn't Davis restructure his contract for Bowman's extension this year?
    Feb 6, 2013 at 5:51 PM
    Response: Mason, you are correct. A player is only allowed one restructure per fiscal year. Vernon Davis has already restructured his contract, so he is unable to do so until after March 12th. Vernon will be able to restructure his contract to allow space for drafted players, since that won't take place until late April.
  • Steve King
    Ricky Jean Francois should be the third player resigned. We are THIN on the D-line and I feel that RJF did a great job filling in for Sopo. I hope we sign at least two more D-linemen to the team for 2013. We were lucky that we didn't have a major injury this year to our starters on the d-line. IF we had lost J. Smith to injury for the season, there may have been no Super Bowl for us!
    Feb 6, 2013 at 4:58 PM
    Response: I'm not a fan of RJF and hope that SF does NOT resign him. I think SF needed to draft a DE/DT in the draft last year to resolve the depth concern, which they opted NOT to do. I agree with you on the injury piece. Our defense needs to do a better job of rotating DL. Ray McDonald and Justin Smith played 150+ downs each in the playoff run. Sop, RJF, and WT contributed ~65 plays altogether.
  • Niners4life
    According to John Clayton the 49ers have 3.9 million in cap space before they make any move. I agree with you that Alex and David have to go to open up more cap space and that Dashon Goldson has to be resigned to a long term deal. Here's where I don't agree. Carlos Rogers isn't going anywhere either. He just signed a 4 year deal last offseason and doesn't really need to renegotiate. I agree I would like to see Delanie Walker come back but have a feeling he would like to somewhere and be the feature tightend instead of sit behind Vernon his whole career. I see the franchise tag being used on either Sopoaga or Walker. I think renegotiating Justin Smith's contract for 2-4 years would be smart.
    Feb 6, 2013 at 4:17 PM
    Response: My salary cap figures are estimates +/- a couple million, however depending on what you have taken into account (e.g. committed money, dead money) you may arrive at a different figure. No one knows what the Salary Cap # will be yet too and that will provide the ceiling for how much teams can spend. 1) I disagree with you on Carlos. Though there were moments he played well, I thought he was exceptionally slow, which showed when playing against the faster slot WRs. SF has to commit a safety to the middle of the field, because Carlos struggles against slot. Carlos effectively signed a 1 year 9M contract. If we trade or release him, his signing bonus will be accelerated, but it will open up cap space. 2)I don't know that Delanie Walker will be a premier TE anywhere else in the league, not that he does not have the skill set, but he is not a consistent pass catcher. I'm sure teams will utilize him the same way SF does, except he won't be on a championship-caliber team, so I expect Delanie to remain with SF. 3)As for Sopoaga, I think SF needs to decide how to add depth to that DL. In the playoffs this year, Sop played (2 out of 55 plays vs. GB, 17 out of 65 plays vs. ATL, and 29 out of 68 plays vs. BAL). Sop made just under 5M last year and I don't expect SF to tag him. The tag on DT is ~8.5M for DT. Remember Baalke did not sign/tag A.Franklin at age 31 and many would argue Franklin was a better DT in 2010 compared to Sopoaga in 2012.
  • Monsterniner
    Good read and thanks for doing it but I'm still struggling with this loss so I'm sorry if I don't say more
    Feb 6, 2013 at 4:06 PM
  • Matt
    Nice rundown BV! Very helpful as we start thinking about the draft and looking at the free agent pool. Do you think the 49ers will look at marrying picks and money to go after free agents this spring? Will that happen before or after the draft?
    Feb 6, 2013 at 3:56 PM
    Response: Thanks. I can't see us drafting 14 players, so I suspect we will find ways to utilize the draft picks either in a package deal for a seasoned star, trade up in the draft or trade away draft picks for future picks. I'll do my usual analysis of draft-eligible college stars and league free agents in the coming weeks.
  • TarHeel49er
    Not sure about giving Kaep that deal just yet. After next season. Hard to imagine the front office not putting in a lot of effort in locking up Crabtree this year. He's a FA in 2014.
    Feb 6, 2013 at 3:50 PM
    Response: I was not a big fan of Crabtree when we drafted him, but with a QB that can get him the football from anywhere on the field, it is hard to argue against retaining Crabtree.
  • SportsFan
    Nice analysis. However, Kap will not be extended this offseason. The CBA prohibits doing so until after the 3rd year.
    Feb 6, 2013 at 3:36 PM
    Response: Thanks. I've taken that out of my article.

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