The Super Bowl and 2014 season are in our rear view mirror, and we are now a month away from the start of freeagency. 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, wide receiver Stevie Johnson, and kicker Phil Dawson. Today, we wrap the series up with a look at safety Craig Dahl.
The 49ers used Dahl primarily in the special teams role, to which he become accustomed. He finished No. 1 on the team's special teams scoring system. Among NFL special teams players who played at least 12 games (his listed game total), he ranked 38th out of 188 players. Dahl played in all 16 games, so my guess is their special teams assessment was that he had no positive or negative impact in four of the games. I'm not entirely sure.
Dahl also got some playing at safety due to Eric Reid injuries. Reid suffered a concussion in Week 16, and missed most of that game plus the following week's season finale. PFF graded Dahl decidedly negative in Week 16, but positive in Week 17. That being said, we are still in a situation where we don't want to see Dahl having to get on the field on defense.
Dahl is scheduled to have a $1,933,334 salary cap number, with a $1.4 million base salary. Dahl also has a $250,000 roster bonus, and a $50,000 workout bonus.
If the 49ers release Dahl they would save $1.7 million in salary cap room, and because he has only one year left on his deal, any release would result in the 49ers have a dead money hit worth $233,334 in 2015.
The 49ers will head into 2015 with Eric Reid and Antoine Bethea as their starting safeties. Jimmie Ward played safety in college, and could very end up as a reserve safety while also playing nickel back. Other than that, special teamer L.J. McCray qualifies as the only other significant safety option. If the 49ers elected to release Dahl, the bigger question would be finding somebody to fill his role on special teams.
One strong possibility could be working out a restructured deal with Dahl that lowers his base salary, but potentially fully guarantees more of it.