With the San Francisco 49ers season now over, the focus becomes how the team can improve for 2023. Over the coming days and weeks there will be plenty of discussion about the big names who should be signed in free agency and which positions should be targeted in the draft.
The 49ers are currently $11.2 million under the 2023 salary cap which is expected to be $236.2 million. San Francisco’s top 51 contracts must be under the salary cap total by the start of the new league year on March 15. Currently San Francisco has only 44 players signed to contracts for next season. Eleven of those were just signed last week to reserve/future contracts.
San Francisco will need to free up cap space to create room to fill out its roster. The team has several key starters including Mike McGlinchey, Jake Brendel, and Samson Ebukam among its 26 impending free agents.
One of the ways teams create cap space is through working with players to restructure their contracts. Here are five possible targets this offseason:
Trent Williams: 2023 Cap Hit – 27,227,424
Williams is a stalwart along the 49ers offensive line. Coming off his second consecutive All-Pro season Williams is the best left tackle in the game.
The only hold up with restructuring Williams’ contract is age. His current deal runs through 2026 when he will be 38.
San Francisco could gain up to $14.181 million in cap space with a reworked deal.
Arik Armstead: 2023 Cap Hit – $23,993,059
Armstead restructured his contract last offseason, saving the 49ers $10.424 million in cap space.
San Francisco could look to the veteran defensive tackle to gain as much as $11.328 million in cap space again this offseason.
Coming off an injury plagued season, Armstead made several key plays over the second half leading to turnovers. Armstead also recorded a pair of sacks two during the 49ers playoff run.
Fred Warner: 2023 Cap Hit – $18,525,000
Warner in entering year three of the extension he signed prior to 2021. The linebacker will turn 27 next November.
Coming off a season which saw him named First Team All-Pro for the second time in his career, Warner is a prime candidate to rework his contract. This could save the 49ers up to $9.191 million for next season.
George Kittle: 2023 Cap Hit – $18,033,757
As with Arik Armstead, Kittle and the 49ers worked out a contract restructure last offseason. By converting $10.415 million of salary into a signing bonus, and adding a void year on the back end, the parties were able to free up $8.33 million.
If they decide to go back to the well for a second time, San Francisco could save as much as $9.715 million by reworking the contract of the four-time Pro Bowl tight end.
Despite missing the first two weeks of the regular season dealing with a groin injury, Kittle had a career high 11 touchdown receptions.
Christian McCaffrey: 2023 Cap Hit – $12,000,000
San Francisco inherited a base salary of $11.8 million for the 2023 season with their midseason trade for McCaffrey. By converting the base salary to signing bonus McCaffrey’s cap number could drop by $7.28 million.
McCaffrey posted 1,210 all-purpose yards and 10 touchdowns following the trade. The former Stanford Cardinal will be a key piece moving forward for the 49ers offense.