The San Francisco 49ers cut down their roster to the 53-man requirement on Saturday, and some of their decisions caught some of us off guard. The decision to release guys like Adam Snyder and C.J. Spillman were not shocking moves, but when you get used to certain players on the team, it can still catch you off guard when they are released.
We will never know the exact specifics for each roster cut, but we can infer plenty from the decisions announced on Saturday. We know the team has gotten younger with the addition of guys like Dillon Farrell and L.J. McCray. There has been a lot of talk this offseason about how the 49ers were getting old, and their window was closing. These moves do not guarantee the window remains open, but it does put the 49ers in a position to extend their contender window. The 49ers could have stuck with the veterans and competed for a Super Bowl. However, by getting younger, they still retain a contender team, and they could very well build something bigger in the future.
The team also has freed up some salary. Spillman and Snyder in particular clear space that could very well be used to extend Michael Crabtree, or work out something with Alex Boone. Even if neither of those two things happens, the 49ers are approaching a time when money will be that much tighter. Next season, Colin Kaepernick's cap hit will take a sizable step up. The 49ers have the space to handle it, but with Aldon Smith coming up for a new contract, and of course Crabtree, Iupati and more due for new deals, the 49ers will need to keep finding more diamonds in the rough.
The team cannot just play it safe with guys like Adam Snyder and C.J. Spillman. They have been very solid players who served important roles for this team, but the 49ers will now need to aggressively seek out cheaper options. They obviously need players who can perform, but there is going to be a certain financial balance. Ideally, the cheaper option outperforms the more expensive player. However, if there's a tie, or even if the more expensive option is just a little bit bitter, the 49ers are going to have to strongly consider that cheaper option.
The 49ers are certainly not in cap hell at this point, but they are in a position where they have to make a lot more tougher choices. That makes the Demarcus Dobbs decision a little tougher to figure out. He is a productive player, but with guys like Tank Carradine and Quinton Dial in the mix, it would seem to make more sense to consider alternatives. Dobbs is not crazy expensive, but in light of the Snyder and Spillman decisions, I am still a little bit surprised.