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Golden Nuggets: Creating cap space for George Kittle’s extension

Bleacher Report’s Brent Sobleski came up with a couple of ideas.

Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

It looks like San Francisco 49ers’ tight end George Kittle’s agent will seek a contract extension that will pay his client like a wide receiver.

With Kittle in line to be the highest paid tight end in NFL history, general manager John Lynch and co. will have to figure out how to make the deal work under the team’s current salary cap situation.

Bleacher Report’s Brent Sobleski came up with one more every NFL team has to make this offseason, and came up with two moves that involved current 49ers.

Sobleski suggested the Minnesota Vikings trade for current Niners defensive lineman Solomon Thomas:

“The 49ers can save $4.4 million by trading the 2017 third overall pick after June 1, according to Over The Cap. The Minnesota Vikings, meanwhile, could use another edge defender with some versatility to fortify their defensive line. Thomas would start opposite Danielle Hunter and likely slide inside for Michael Pierce in sub-packages to rush the passer.”

San Francisco currently has $15.7 million in cap space, so trading Thomas would give the 49ers enough room to fit a $16-to-$19 million a year deal. The defensive lineman has been a disappointment, to say the least, since being picked No. 3 overall in 2017. Lynch already declined Thomas’ fifth-year option, but the team could bring him back on a cheaper deal next year. At this point, getting a fifth-round pick for Thomas sounds like a reasonable return.

Sobleski’s suggestion for San Francisco is to find a trade partner for another defensive lineman.

Dee Ford, meanwhile, has a $15.9 million salary-cap hit this season. According to The Athletic’s Michael Lombardi, the 49ers placed Ford (among others) on the trade block to “clean up some cap issues.” A post-June 1 trade would create $14.31 million in salary-cap space this year and significantly more financial flexibility over the next three seasons, per Over The Cap.”

This would obviously give the 49ers more than enough room to give Kittle the big deal he is worthy of, but would also provide the Niners with some room to sign key players into the future, such as Richard Sherman and Emmanuel Moseley.

Out of these two options, I would definitely prefer San Francisco trades Thomas. The 49ers are in their Super Bowl window right now, and losing a player like Ford, despite his injury history, is a huge blow to the Niners’ pass rush.

Ford missed five games last season dealing with knee and hamstring issues, but he finished 2019 with 6.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. There is no doubt about his talent, but it is tough to justify paying him almost $16 million to play just 34.1% of the snaps when he suited up.

What do you think of Sobleski’s proposed deals? Do you think Ford will be a member of the 49ers after the 2020 season?

Kittle has been the 49ers’ best pass catcher for the last couple of years, and is expecting to get paid like it. PFF released its projected reception yard leaders at the tight end position for next season, and Kittle is in the top five. (h/t NBC Bay Area’s Dalton Johnson)

San Francisco needs Ford to be healthy in 2020 if it wants to make another run to the Super Bowl.’s Mark Inabinett wrote a piece on Ford, focusing on what the defensive lineman is expecting next season.

Deebo Samuel had a strong rookie season. Kyle Madson of Niners Wire shares his thoughts one thing Samuel has to do to become an elite NFL wide receiver.

Speaking of receivers, Brandon Aiyuk is expected to come in and be an impact player right away. Fansided’s Peter Panacy does a deep-dive on what he projects Aiyurk’s rookie season to be like.

Aldon Smith will always be a big what-if? for 49ers fans. He opened up about his long journey back to the NFL, and what it means to have his former position coach, Jim Tomsula, with him in Dallas. (h/t NBC Bay Area’s Alex Didion)