Over the weekend, we wrapped up the offensive side of the ball in our salary cap review/preview. We now move on to the defensive side of the ball, starting with the defensive line. As I mentioned before, I added four more columns to the 2014 assessment. With the continued help of Niner Cap Hell, I've added dead money calculations for pre- and post-June 1 cuts. I've also added cap savings for pre- and post-June 1 cuts, as requested. I removed dead money for previous players as it is low enough that it just serves to muddy things up a little bit.
The defensive line is as loaded with depth as any position on the roster. I don't yet know that Tony Jerod-Eddie or Demarcus Dobbs would be suitable as long-term starters if someone suffered a serious injury, but as rotational options, they're plenty solid.
|Player||Cap Figure||Base Salary||Prorated SB||Roster Bonus||Workout Bonus||Dead Money (pre-6/1)||Dead Money (post-6/1)||Cap Savings (pre-6/1)||Cap Savings (post-6/1)|
|Player||Cap Figure||Base Salary||Prorated SB||Roster Bonus||Workout Bonus|
There has been some chatter among draftniks about the 49ers need to draft a replacement for Justin Smith. On the one hand, Smith is not getting any younger. I do get that point. However, these mock drafts ignore the 49ers decision to draft Tank Carradine last season, and they ignore Jim Tomsula's ability to develop diamonds in the rough.
The 49ers sat on Tank for a year, and will look to get him in the mix throughout the coming offseason workout program. The 49ers invested a second round pick in Tank, so this goes beyond just rolling the dice on a maybe kind of guy. It's one thing to throw a small signing bonus at Lawrence Okoye, and see what comes of it. Even with the pick being sort of a "freebie" through the Alex Smith trade (and then traded down), they used a significant draft asset on Carradine. They have to be looking at him as a guy they hope can work his way into the starting lineup.
Jim Tomsula has proven himself to be as good a position coach as there is in the NFL. The 49ers have developed three undrafted free agents (Dobbs, TJE and Williams). While Williams is the only to emerge as a potential starter, all three have been valuable contributors. The 49ers cannot count on having Coach Tomsula around forever, but with the talent in place, I think that could reasonably factor into a decision not to invest another high pick on the line.
For now, the 49ers have really not had to invest a ton of money in their defensive line. Smith is their highest cap hit at $6.9 million. Ray McDonald comes in at $5.3 million. The 49ers signed McDonald to a very reasonable deal back in 2011 before slotting him into the starting lineup. After this year's $5.3 million hit, he'll take up $5.9 million in 2015, and finally wrapping up as a $1.74 million hit in 2016.
The 49ers created a much deeper rotation in 2013, with TJE and Demarcus Dobbs getting extensive playing time behind Smith and McDonald. Add in Tank Carradine to the mix, and that's a whole lot of depth. Not only can Tank be developed as a future starter, but it also means Smith and McDonald will get that much more rest. This will keep them fresh late in the season, and ideally extends their careers, even if just a little bit.
In the middle of the line, there will be all sorts of competition. Glenn Dorsey likely heads into training camp as the favorite at nose tackle. Ian Williams was the starter at the beginning of 2013, but a broken ankle sidelined him in Week 2. Glenn Dorsey took over and was a strong presence in the middle the rest of the way. I think Dorsey gets those first team reps early, but maybe Williams works his way back into the starting job. We won't really know for certain until we start seeing that preseason rotation.
Beyond those two, Quinton Dial is a guy who will be worth watching. He won't be starting anywhere this season, but he's another guy who could work his way into the rotation. With this kind of depth, somebody with some solid talent could be looking at their release before the end of training camp. And given the inexpensive nature of the depth, it only helps the 49ers overall salary cap situation.