49ers Must Say Goodbye To These 5 Players

Gilbert Brink
Jun 17, 2020 at 8:09 AM


The 49ers will be a Super Bowl contender in 2020. The question is, will 2020 be the final year the 49ers are a Super Bowl contender? The recent talk around George Kittle's contract extension has opened the eyes of many of the 49ers Faithful. While the 49ers' talent is long, their money is short.

The 49ers are squeezed up against the cap in 2020, having an estimated cap space of just above $15 million without any rookies signed at this time. Jimmy Garoppolo, Trent Williams, Dee Ford, and Richard Sherman combine for a near $70 million cap hit. The 2020 NFL salary cap is $198 million. To break that down, four players take up over 35% of the 49ers' total salary cap for 2020. Ouch.

What does this mean for the other 49 players on the 53-man roster? Among those other 49ers are TE George Kittle, DE Nick Bosa, LB Fred Warner, and RT Mike McGlinchey. These four players all have two things in common: they are key pieces to the 49ers franchise and they will all be demanding large contracts in the near future. Currently, the 49ers are in talks to sign Kittle to an extension. Due to the lack of progress, one can see that it is a lot easier said than done. With little money to go around, it is imperative for the front office to free up some dollars for their young cornerstones' pockets.

The 49ers have to begin now. Better yet, the 49ers should have started yesterday, eliminating the contracts of expendable players. Of course, it isn't easy to just dump contracts, but the 49ers must find creative ways to cut the fat. With an eye to the future, the 49ers must make these players a part of their past.

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RB Tevin Coleman


If Kyle Shanahan has proven one thing during his tenure as 49ers head coach, it's that he can get five yards per carry out of damn near anybody. Coleman is an old Shanahan favorite who the 49ers signed in 2019, a player who often started games and left the 49ers fanbase clamoring for him to be replaced immediately. Both Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert routinely outperformed Coleman when they entered the game. Coleman gained 4.0 yards per rush while Breida gained 5.1, and Mostert gained 5.6. These numbers make you wonder why Breida was shipped to Miami, and Coleman sits on the roster accruing a $4.8 million cap hit.

Quite frankly, there aren't many good reasons to explain why Coleman remains a Niner. He isn't a horrible player, but out of all 49ers running backs, he makes the most money and provides the least production. Coleman is the 13th highest-paid player on the team. Jeff Wilson Jr. makes $750,000 in 2020 and averaged 3.9 yards per carry. A player who produces at almost an identical rate costs the team five times less money. Dump Coleman, insert Wilson, and enjoy the $4 million in savings.

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C Weston Richburg


Weston Richburg's situation is similar to that of a few of his teammates. The 49ers signed him during a time when they were a bad team. Therefore, he was a player who was overpaid due to the 49ers' need for quality players. The contract Richburg initially signed in March 2018 was for five years, netting him $47.5 million. After two injury-riddled seasons, it's plain to see that Richburg was not worth the contract he received.

In January, Richburg restructured his deal, saving the 49ers $4.5 million. This is all he did for the 49ers in January, as his replacement, Ben Garland, took over his position in December due to injury and held down the center position for the 49ers as they made it to the Super Bowl. Watching the 49ers run over the Vikings and Packers, it was hard to notice any difference between the 49ers with Garland compared to Richburg.

Statistically, Pro Football Focus graded Richburg slightly higher than Garland (62.5 to 59.1). Though their production is nearly equal, their pay isn't. Garland is scheduled to make $2 million this year, while Richburg will make $4.3 million. Not only is Richburg paid well in 2020, when looking into the future, he is saddled with a combined cap hit of $23 million in 2021 and 2022. The 49ers won't miss much and will save a lot by shopping Richburg to a team in need of a center while promoting Garland to the starting job.

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K Robbie Gould


Robbie Gould is a fantastic kicker. He will go down as one of the best kickers of his era. There have been several times when Gould kicked the 49ers to a big win.

Robbie Gould is a kicker. A kicker who will make $4.35 million this upcoming season, and is scheduled to average $4 million per year in 2021 and 2022. As much as the security blanket of having Gould is comfortable for the 49ers, they simply cannot continue to pay such an exorbitant amount of money to the kicker position. The theme continues to persist with this team, another player whose contract reflects a deal a bad team can afford to pay. The 49ers cannot afford the luxury of overpaying players who have minimal impact or can be easily replaced. Gould will not be easily replaced, but he does have a minimal impact. The name Chase McLaughlin may give 49ers fans horrific flashbacks, but in reality, he filled in fairly well for Gould in 2019.

The 49ers should settle for a less talented kicker and adjust their mindset, focusing on a more aggressive approach that takes more chances and avoids longer field goal attempts.

LB Kwon Alexander


Sorry, Kwon. The emotional leader of the 49ers defense, the captain of the Hot Boyzz, is no longer needed. This has nothing to do with talent. Alexander played very well during the regular season and transformed a young linebacker group from mice to monsters. As with Gould and Richburg, Alexander is eating off a contract that a 4-12 team can afford. Alexander, like Richburg, restructured his deal to give the 49ers some cap relief. Knowing that his contract was bloated and hampering the team, Kwon displayed his desire to stay with the 49ers by taking less money and in 2020 he carries a cap hit of $4.5 million. This is a reasonable salary for Alexander. The next two seasons are where paying him becomes completely irrational.

In both 2021 and 2022, Alexander is scheduled to cost the 49ers $16 million per season. Introducing, LB Dre Greenlaw. Not that this man needs any introduction. His "clinch by an inch" play will forever live in the hearts and minds of the 49er Faithful. The emergence of Greenlaw, on a rookie contract no less, makes parting ways with Alexander a no-brainer. Not only did Greenlaw replicate his performance, he actually outperformed his much pricier counterpart, according to Pro Football Focus. Greenlaw earned a grade of 63.9 while Alexander scored a 61.3. In any business, if your replacement can achieve the same level of success that you produce, and do it for nearly $4 million less (Greenlaw is set to be paid $675,000 in 2020) than what you command, you no longer have an argument for your usefulness. Again, sorry, Kwon.

DE Dee Ford


When Dee Ford is on the field, he puts the 49ers defense into top form. His ability to pressure the passer unlocks the defense and allows his fellow linemen to wreak havoc on the opposing quarterback. The key to those two statements is the phrase "When Dee Ford is on the field." When the 49ers traded for Dee Ford, they did their due diligence researching his injury history. From the very second he stepped on the field in training camp, Ford battled injuries throughout the 2019 season that caused him to miss significant time.

Only one player on the 49ers makes more money than Dee Ford. That player is QB Jimmy Garoppolo. Ford carries a near $16 million cap hit in 2020. The 49ers do have a potential out after the 2020 season that would allow them to cut ties with Ford that would have his contract equal out to a two-year, $35 million deal. If they don't choose this route, he will be on the books for 2021, 2022, and 2023 with an average cap hit of $18 million per season. It is hard to imagine Ford being on this team past 2020. It would take a monstrous season and zero signs of any injury issues. The dominance of a peak Nick Bosa will soften the blow of losing a player liker Ford. If the 49ers are to sign any of their younger talent, they cannot pay Dee Ford $18 million a year, especially when you take into consideration the injury issues that come tied to the player.

Ford is not an easy player to replace, but that will be the reality of these 49ers heading forward. They are going to lose good players, players who will be difficult to replace. They're too good not to. The key to the success of this franchise will be choosing which players are essential and which players are expendable. Coleman, Richburg, Gould, Alexander, and Ford can all be filed under "expendable."
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.


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