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Considering tight ends guaranteed money and 49ers roster locks

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The 49ers handed out all sorts of contracts this offseason. Time to look at guaranteed money and what it means for each positional depth chart — QB | RB

Earlier this week, following the 49ers three latest roster moves, I asked how many locks the 49ers have on their roster. With a new coaching staff and front office, few players are going to be safe when the time comes for roster cuts in late August. Some players seem like clear locks, while other seem clearly in danger, but nothing is really all that clear given the organizational overhaul.

On Wednesday, we started a series of articles in which we will look at the guaranteed money and dead money related to each player at the various positions. The idea is that players with more guaranteed money or potential dead money hits are less likely to get released under the new management. Wit

With each position, salary cap guru Jason Hurley look at the amount of fully guaranteed money still to be played out, and what dead money hits would look like following a release or trade. It is May 10, but I decided to focus on these exclusively as post-June 1 cuts. Any player cut after June 1 has their dead money split between 2017 and 2018. The 49ers could make some roster moves between now and then, but we’re looking at this based on training camp-related cuts. Also, we don’t know how offset language works for most of these contracts, so we are not factoring that into the assessment.

Today, we move on to the tight ends. The 49ers drafted George Kittle and signed Cole Hikutini as an undrafted free agent, but the focus remains on Vance McDonald. The 49ers signed McDonald to a five-year contract extension this past December. It is essentially a three-year deal with two option years, but it was an odd decision considering Trent Baalke was fired shortly after.

John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan have both acknowledged the team has tried to trade McDonald. They could not find a trade partner, and so he will remain with the 49ers for the time being. This is one of the more unpredictable positions on the roster. At least one of the tight ends from last year is likely to remain on the roster, but who is tough to say.

McDonald has the most guaranteed money, but a trade remains a possibility. They could release him as well given all their cap space, but in a rebuilding year, that feels like it might be a waste. If they can’t trade McDonald, I’d rather see what Kyle Shanahan can do with him. Maybe it builds later trade value, or maybe it just builds the depth on the unit. The team is in the still early stages of a rebuilding process, so there is no need to just throw him out and be done with it.

Here is a rundown of each player’s pertinent salary numbers.

Vance McDonald: $7,700,000

$5.6 million in remaining signing bonus proration plus $2.1 million in 2017 guaranteed base salary. It is worth noting, $3.7 million of his 2018 base salary is currently guaranteed for injury, and will become fully guaranteed on April 1, 2018. Additionally, $3.2 million of his 2019 base salary is currently guaranteed for injury, and will become fully guaranteed on April 1, 2019.

Fully Guaranteed Money Left to be Paid: $2,100,000
Post June 1 Dead Money 2017: $3,500,000
Post June 1 Dead Money 2018: $4,200,000

Garrett Celek: $2,875,000

$1 million of his 2017 base salary plus $625,000 in signing bonus proration.

Fully Guaranteed Money Left to be Paid: $1,000,000
Post June 1 Dead Money 2017: $1,625,000
Post June 1 Dead Money 2018: $1,250,000

George Kittle: $298,296

All signing bonus proration

Fully Guaranteed Money Left to be Paid: $0
Post June 1 Dead Money 2017: $74,574
Post June 1 Dead Money 2018: $223,722

Blake Bell: $252,566

All signing bonus proration

Fully Guaranteed Money Left to be Paid: $0
Post June 1 Dead Money 2017: $128,283
Post June 1 Dead Money 2018: $128,283

Logan Paulsen: $125,000

All signing bonus proration

Fully Guaranteed Money Left to be Paid: $0
Post June 1 Dead Money 2017: $125,000

Cole Hikutini: $110,000

$10,000 signing bonus, and $100,000 of his 2017 base salary

Fully Guaranteed Money Left to be Paid: $100,000
Post June 1 Dead Money 2017: $103,333
Post June 1 Dead Money 2018: $6,667