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49ers salary cap 2015, cut candidates: Phil Dawson

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We are taking a look at various candidates for release as the 49ers look to improve their 2015 salary cap situation. We look at kicker Phil Dawson.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Super Bowl and 2014 season are in our rear view mirror, and we are now a month away from the start of free agency. Things have quieted down enough that we have time to start better assessing where the San Francisco 49ers stand from a salary cap standpoint. The 49ers are currently just under $3 million under the 2015 salary cap when you factor in credits and roll-over space.

Last week, we took a look at guaranteed money. We are now moving on to a series of articles on potential salary cap casualties. We are looking at five candidates to be released, breaking down their recent performance, and what a release would mean from a cap and roster perspective. We're publishing these in descending order of 2015 cap figure. We began with outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks, tight end Vernon Davis, and wide receiver Stevie Johnson. Today, we move on to kicker Phil Dawson.

The season got off to an inauspicious start for Dawson. He struggled in the preseason, and I think plenty of us quickly became concerned this might be a repeat of David Akers's final season with the 49ers. Dawson finished the season converting 25 of 31 field goals. It was a step back from his 32 of 36 in 2013, but it was still a solid year. The bigger concern was his struggles with kickoffs. Again, he was not abysmal by any stretch, but his leg is definitely getting a little older. He can still drill 50-yard field goals, but his kickoffs were a bit lacking at times.

The Numbers

Dawson has a $4.134 million salary cap number, with a $3.134 million base salary, with $500,000 of that being guaranteed on April 1.

If the 49ers release Dawson before June 1, they would save $3.134 million, with a $1 million dead money hit in 2015. If they chose to wait to designate Dawson a June 1 cut, they would still save $3.134 million, but if they waited to cut him until June 1, they would only save $2.634 million, with a $1.5 million dead money hit in 2015.

You may be asking why there are two different dead money hits for a June 1 cut. This is due to them actually waiting until June 1 to release Dawson, because by then his April 1 $500,000 guarantee would have kicked in. If the 49ers release him prior to April, but designate him a June 1 cut, they would save the entire $3.134 million, due to the base salary guarantee not kicking in.

Depth Chart

We would seemingly know fairly quickly what the plan is with Dawson. Given that he is due the guarantee on April 1, it seems unlikely that he will be released after April 1. At the same time, if the 49ers find a young kicker they like in the draft or as an undrafted free agent, they might be willing to take that $500,000 hit because a rookie kicker's salary would be low enough to help offset that. It would appear some of the names to watch during and after this year's draft are Justin Manton (Louisiana-Monroe), Kyle Brindza (Notre Dame), Sam Ficken (Penn State) and Tom Obarski (Concordia-St. Paul).

As always you can find me on twitter, @Jay_AB81, or check out all the 49ers salary cap pages here on Niners Nation.