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49ers salary cap: Roster bonus and other money needed for 2015

The San Francisco 49ers have a little over $13 million in cap space heading into their first preseason game. Looks can be deceiving however, as that number will change for a variety of reasons when the regular season arrives.

The San Francisco 49ers currently hold a little over $13 million in cap space. Jason Hurley has the team situated with $13,356,346 in cap space, while the NFLPA salary cap report has the team situated with $13,542,272 in cap space. That is a sizable amount of cap space, particularly with Aldon Smith no longer due roster bonuses that were Not Likely To Be Earned incentives. However, while the 49ers do have significant space, that number is not entirely what it appears to be.

The current cap space figure is based on the top 51 salary cap hits on the roster. That means there will be two more guys on the roster, impacting the cap space. In counting backwards from the top of this list, Blake Bell is No. 51. Guys with lower cap hits than Bell include Aaron Lynch, Mike Davis, DeAndre Smelter, L.J. McCray, Dillon Farrell, Bradley Pinion, Kenneth Acker, Keith Reaser, DeAndrew White, and others. A good number of those guys will make the roster, ahead of guys currently in the top 51 salaries. That could open the door for more cap space.

However, that number could also decrease for other reasons. Once final roster cuts are made, a team's salary cap includes the 53-man roster, players on the NFI, PUP and IR lists, and the practice squad. For the 49ers, that means DeAndre Smelter (likely an NFI candidate to start the year), will count against the cap. Teams technically do not have to pay a player on the NFI list, but usually work out a deal on that. Daniel Kilgore, Michael Wilhoite and Nick Bellore are all on injury lists as well.

The 49ers will likely also need at least $1,071,000 million for their 10-man practice squad. Practice squad players earn a minimum of $107,100 over the course of the season. Technically a team does not need to carry ten players, so it could be less than that. However, a team will sometimes give a player more than the minimum to convince them to stick around on the practice squad.

The 49ers have various dollar figures not currently hitting the cap that need to be considered with all 2015 roster moves. The 49ers may not use all of this money, but they need to have the space for it. Aside from injury lists and the practice squad, the team also needs to have money available for roster bonuses that are currently listed as NLTBE incentives.

The team will need a total of $1,932,500 for potential roster bonuses being paid out during the season. The players below did not play a full season last year, and so some or all of their roster bonuses are listed as NLTBE and don't show up as a cap hit until they have actually been earned. For example, if a player signs a contract with $160,000 in game-day roster bonuses, and only played 10 games the previous year, $100,000 of those game-day bonuses count against the cap, and $60,000 are counted as NLTBE, and thus do not count against the cap.

This first group all have game-day roster bonuses that are partially or fully NLTBE (total roster bonus in parenthesis):

RB Reggie Bush - $93,750 ($300,00
RB Kendall Hunter - $85,000
TE Vernon Davis - $50,000
C Daniel Kilgore - $62,500
DT Glenn Dorsey - $200,000
NT Ian Williams - $87,500
OLB Ahmad Brooks - $93,750
ILB NaVorro Bowman - $750,000
CB Tramaine Brock - $260,000

Defensive tackle Darnell Dockett is due a $250,000 roster bonus if he makes the team's Week 1 53-man roster. Since he was injured in training camp a year ago, this is listed as a NLTBE incentive.

It is worth noting, teams often look to have approximately $5 million or so in cap room for emergencies. If we subtract the roster bonus, practice squad and DeAndre Smelter cap hit from the cap space, the 49ers are left with a little under $10 million. That's some decent space, but that has not factored in the full 53-man roster and what happens with Daniel Kilgore, Michael Wilhoite and Nick Bellore. But for now, it gives you a little more context.

As always you can follow me on Twitter, @Jay_AB81, and check out more salary cap articles, and thoughts throughout the 2015 season, right here on Niners Nation.