Will Nick Bosa’s contract lead the 49ers to salary cap trouble?

On Wednesday the San Francisco 49ers and Nick Bosa the highest paid non-quarterback in the NFL. The timing of the deal should allow Bosa to be ready for the season opener against Pittsburgh on Sunday.

“I mean, there is question because we haven’t seen him, but I think you guys know how I’m talking,” said head coach Kyle Shanahan while announcing the signing. “Like he’d have to have a beer belly and be out of shape or something which that’s not in Bosa’s DNA.”

ESPN was first to report the deal as $170 million over five years with $122.5 million guaranteed. It was later reported the deal includes a signing bonus of $50 million and will be in addition to his current deal. This means the 49ers now have Bosa under team control for the next six seasons.

Having Bosa in the lineup on Sunday is a big advantage for San Francisco. The defensive end is coming off a season during which he recorded 18.5 sacks and 48 quarterback hits during the regular season. To put those numbers into perspective, the combined career highs of the 49ers other four edge rushers total to 20.5 sacks and 41 quarterback hits.

On Thursday afternoon Bosa made his first appearance on the practice field in Santa Clara. During the portion of practice open to the media he was seen working on the side with 49ers strength and conditioning coach Dustin Perry.

What’s next?

The 49ers will next turn their attention to extending wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk. Except for DeForest Buckener, who wasn’t drafted by this regime, they have been able to hold on to their top players.

However, will the Bosa contract and other big deals given to veterans lead the 49ers into salary cap hell?

The dirty little secret about the NFL’s salary cap is teams can always find a way to hold on to players if they really want to. That is the case with the 49ers and Aiyuk. Even with the big money given to Bosa, the 49ers have levers they can pull to make this work within the salary cap.

On Wednesday the team created $23.224 million in cap space by reworking the contracts of George Kittle and Trent Williams. This is a good example of how the 49ers would be able to get Aiyuk done and bring in additional free agents.

San Francisco has the flexibility to free up nearly $82 million through the restructuring of contracts. Among those whose could receive new deals are Deebo Samuel, Fred Warner and Arik Armstead to name a few.

Practice notes

Two key members of the 49ers secondary did not participate in Thursday’s practice. Talanoa Hufanga was out for personal reasons. Meanwhile, cornerback Charvarius Ward was held out with an injury to his heel. The injury to Ward would be a significant blow to the 49ers secondary if he cannot play on Sunday. Any update on this will come tomorrow from Kyle Shanahan. The assistant coaches do not discuss injuries.

Jon Feliciano and Trent Williams returned to after missing Wednesday’s practice. Feliciano was out due to illness while Williams had a rest day.

George Kittle has been dealing with a groin injury. He was moving good during individual work and while running routes with the quarterbacks.

Ray-Ray McCloud was running routes. The wide receiver injured his thumb but has recovered quickly and looks like he will be ready to go.

Oren Burks (knee), Tashaun Gipson (back), Jordan Mason (foot) and Jake Moody (quadricep) were all on hand as well during the portion of practice open to the media.

This article has 28 Comments

  1. I wonder how many plays Bosa will play Sun? I think Sun. game comes down to two issues. Number one JJ Watt Vs. McKivitz and number two the Steelers running game Vs. the 9ers run D. I’m not feeling over confident on either fronts. A third issue is how will this KS led team start the season?

    1. You mean McKivitz, Kittle and Juszczyk. The latter 2 will have to be there too as McKivitz is a swinging gate. Niners win easy if they can keep Watt blocked otherwise Purdy will be in danger.

  2. I’m starting to lose confidence in Kittle’s sustainability. Could it be that Shanahan wants to see Willis and eventually Latu this season for the purpose weighing Kittle’s future with the team.

    I liked Woener in college, but Shanahan has yet to use him in the passing scheme. Hopefully, Weorner gets more opportunities in 23.
    Imho, if Kittle continues to miss games during the season, I see Lynch and Shanahan making this a high priority to address it.

  3. AES,
    He seems to get banged up early but gets healthy as the season progresses. I think drafting two TEs gives us an idea about what the 49ers think about Kittle’s future.

  4. Yeah, I’ve been curious about how Bosa and the restructures impact future years. When you restructure contracts by $23M to free up cap space now does that amount get spread to future years and reduce the available amount to spend in those years?

    1. Pat,
      If they don’t sign any FAs or make any trades during the season the total 23 mill rolls over to next years cap.

      1. I guess the better way to phrase that question is: Does restructuring contracts now and converting salary to bonus create dead money in future years? As an example, I read somewhere that the Dee Ford contract is eating up $8.6M in 2023 cap space for the 49ers. That’s money the team can’t use toward current active players. Does restructuring all these deals inevitably mean much higher dead cap money hits in future years?

        1. Overthecap.com is a very useful site and well respected on nfl salary cap. You can click on a player and see how it impacts by the restructured bonus. It does push their numbers up each year and in their case added a voided year. Void years are dead cap hits.

  5. Coach,
    Kittle is close to reaching Jimmy G, chronic injury status. If he misses games this season will the 49ers reassess his contract going forward ala Gorappolo?

    1. AES,
      They just renegotiated his contract yesterday making it longer. I don’t know exactly but I now think he is under contract for another 4 years or so.

      1. Yes, he was restructured. Now I hope he stays on the field, because he is one of top players. When he misses games there’s a big gap between him and the backup TE. Hopefully, Willis and Latu can eventually close that gap.

  6. If it wasn’t for his consistent injuries, I think George Kittle is right up there with Travis Kelsy. Travis is more durable. Although Kittle might be a better blocker. Wait, What?! Mckivitz vs Watt? Oh, man! He had trouble against lesser guys. Better get FB Kyle to help him, or Brock Purdy will be running for his life.

  7. I expected Bosa’s contract would have splashy, headline grabbing numbers.

    How much guaranteed money is “fully guaranteed” will guide how what I think about the contract.

    Paraag and Lynch want more incentive based, game bonus pay. This is part protecting the team in case of injury.
    Bosa wants more GTD pay in the contract. This might have been the holdup.

    I’m glad Nick’s back. Even if has limited snaps Sunday, his presence is a moral booster.

  8. No mention of Juice in this article…you think he restructures to take less pay next year or is it set in stone that he will be a cap casualty? With Colletto on the PS I’m leaving towards the latter….

    1. The potential amount available through restructuring contracts goes up if they decide to go that route with Juice. I have a feeling this is his last season so didn’t include it. They also get a good amount of savings if he chooses to retire.

  9. Watching the Chiefs Tackles get away with holding and egregious false starts last night rekindled PTSD from the 49ers Superbowl loss. Refs swallowed their whistles in that Superbowl. The Chiefs O-line got away with murder in the 4th quarter. Just call one of those obvious holding penalties and the 49ers win. Damn glad to see the Lions win the game.

  10. Kittle and Ward are questionable.

    Re: Kittle- absolutely an impact player when he’s on the field, whether in the run or passing game or as a blocker/pass-catcher.

    What’s maddening is he’s always hurt. Genuine question- is this because he’s not smart about the way he trains, plays and practices, ie- always going 110% all of the time and not doing the right things to avoid unnecessary contact like fighting for 1 more yard after a 35 yard catch and run? Or is it something else? Deebo seems to be in the same boat, with the same mindset.

    Or I am completely off base here?

    1. Gav,
      Kittle has missed 16 games in 6 seasons. Half of those in 2020 with a broken foot. So other than 2020 he misses about a game and a half per season. Not great but not that bad. I would say his effort/style had nothing to do with the foot injury, according to DRs he just landed wrong.

    2. Both of them are tough guys who are never going to down to avoid a tackle. That’s why they are so good so naturally they are going to have some injuries.

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