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49ers salary cap: Tight end money focused on Vernon Davis

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The San Francisco 49ers have focused much of their tight end money on Vernon Davis. Can he bounce back and justify the money? What does it mean for the future? We break it down. Previous positions: QB | RB | WR

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The San Francisco 49ers are a little over three weeks away from the start of training camp. We just wrapped up a look at the 49ers bubble watch, position-by-position. Now, I thought we would take a look at the salary cap information for each position. Jason Hurley put together the tables with cap information for each position, and I have added some thoughts as well.

Before we get into the details, a brief explanation of the table. The first number is the player's cap number for 2015. The second is remaining fully guaranteed money on their deal. The third and fourth are dead money and cap savings this year if a player is released before the end of the season. The final two columns are for players released next offseason, but not as a June 1 cut.

I will also occasionally reference positional spending since that can sometimes provide a little bit of context for a given position. I am getting that information from the positional spending page at Over The Cap. This references the amount of cap space devoted to a given position. If you have any questions, let me know in the comments.

Player 2015 Cap Number Gtd Money 2015 Dead $$ 2015 Cap Savings 2016 Dead $ (Pre-6/1) 2016 Cap Savings (Pre-6/1)
Vernon Davis $6,697,920 $2,067,920 $2,067,920 $4,900,000 N/A N/A
Vance McDonald $981,594 $498,792 $249,396 $732,198 $249,396 $859,797
Garrett Celek $735,000 $25,000 $25,000 $710,000 N/A N/A
Derek Carrier $718,333 $400,000 $133,333 $585,000 $266,666 $791,667
Blake Bell $561,283 $505,132 $126,283 $435,000 $378,849 $272,434
Asante Cleveland $510,000 $0 $0 $510,000 $0 $600,000
Busta Anderson $448,196 $52,784 $13,196 $435,000 $39,588 $498,608
Xavier Gamble $435,000 $0 $0 $435,000 $0 $525,000

The San Francisco 49ers have a whole bunch of tight ends on the roster. They have invested $11,087,326 in 2015 cap space, with over half of it belonging to Vernon Davis. The 49ers tight end is on the last year of his contract, and has a cap hit of $6,697,920, which is the fifth highest on the team this year.

There is no word on what Davis's future holds. He had an ugly 2014 season, and his future will depend in part on if he can rebound. Whether he does or not, the 49ers tight end position has all sorts of questions this year and moving forward. They invested a second round pick in Vance McDonald, and are still waiting to see if that will pan out. They've rolled the dice in trying to continue Derek Carrier's conversion from wide receiver to tight end. And they invested a fourth round pick in tight end Blake Bell this year.

The 49ers will have a sizable chunk of cap space heading into next offseason with Vernon Davis coming off the books. It is unlikely he earns himself a higher salary, so even if he returns, the 49ers will likely be saving some space. The big questions this year are whether or not Davis returns to form, whether or not Vance McDonald stays healthy and figures out how to take the next step, and who emerges as the third tight end.

League spending

The 49ers rank sixth in the league in tight end spending. The Jacksonville Jaguars top the list at just over $17 million. The top of this list is NFC West heavy, with the St. Louis Rams second at just under $17 million, and the Seattle Seahawks fifth at just over $11.5 million. Adding Jimmy Graham boosted the Seahawks number, while a Lance Kendricks contract extension did the trick for the St. Louis Rams.

The New York Giants are at the bottom of the list, spending just over $3.3 million in 2015 cap space on the position. The Arizona Cardinals are right ahead of them, spending $26,000 more than the Giants.