One of the trademarks of the 49ers defense the last two years has been the hard-hitting nature of their two safeties. Dashon Goldson and Donte Whitner have their weaknesses, but the fury they bring with their hits keeps the heads of opposing receivers on a swivel when they come across the middle of the field.
Today we wrap up our six-part series looking at the various cap casualty candidates on the 49ers roster by looking at safety Donte Whitner.
Parys Haralson | Jonathan Goodwin | Mario Manningham
Whitner recently earned a $100,000 bonus thanks to his selection to the Pro Bowl this year. Whitner is scheduled for a $4,933,333 cap figure in 2013. That number includes a $3.85 million base salary, a $250,000 workout bonus, and $833,333 in prorated signing bonus money. If the 49ers elected to cut Whitner, they would save $4.1 million. Only the $833,333 would hit the 2013 salary cap.
Honestly, I don't see Whitner getting cut at this point, particularly with Dashon Goldson's future with the 49ers still up in the air. Whitner still struggles in coverage, but he remains a strong veteran presence. He is an effective player and a hard hitter, making him worthwhile to keep for the short term.
Furthermore, I don't see many or any free agents to take Whitner's spot. There has been some discussion in other posts about converting cornerback Chris Culliver to safety, but that seems unlikely at this point. Some options in the draft would include Fresno State's Phillip Thomas or Florida International's Jonathan Cyprien. Whitner is a free agent after this coming season, so adding depth now to compete for the starting job down the road is not the worst idea in the world.