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Virtual work could be indefinite if the NFL and NFLPA don’t reach a deal by Sunday

It’s money, not safety protocols, that could lead the NFL to a delayed training camp start.

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

The San Francisco 49ers will report to training camp on Tuesday, July 28. While the NFL has put in safety protocols in place, money remains an issue between the league and the NFLPA. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported Thursday that owners are continuing to push for an agreement to lower the salary cap in 2020 and 2021 in anticipation of a multibillion-dollar revenue shortfall this year. The NFLPA and general managers believe this could lead to a rash of veteran cuts and restructures.

The NFLPA wants to spread the financial hit through 2030, rather than taking it now. And even a $10 million reduction in the 2020 salary cap would be “too much” at this stage, one GM said. Rosters are largely set. Many teams would be scrambling to free up money somewhere, per Pelissero. There currently is no set deadline to account for such a revenue shortfall. Still, Pelissero reported ownership wants to finalize a deal before Sunday when the Chiefs and Texans rookies are scheduled to begin strength and conditioning. Without an agreement by Sunday, Pelissero said the NFL could potentially inform teams that virtual work will continue indefinitely with no camp schedule agreed to.

How will that affect the Niners? Kyle Juszczyk will be a free agent after this year, and although Kyle Shanahan runs his offense through a fullback, a lower cap will have an impact on the team that currently leads the league in cap spending for hits backfield at $17.6 million. Juice’s contract, as well as Tevin Coleman’s, come off the books after this year, which would save the 49ers roughly $11.6 million. Another team may be able to pry Juszczyk away from San Francisco, but he’d be hard-pressed to find a better situation than he’s currently in. Ideally, one of the younger runners like JaMycal Hasty excels and makes a player like Coleman expendable.

Outside of running back, and assuming Kittle’s deal gets done, the 49ers will be in relatively good shape salary cap-wise. It helps to have your top wide receivers on rookie contracts. If the front office feels like Trent Williams is too good to let walk away, they can offset his contract by releasing Laken Tomlinson, which would save the team $5 million. Having versatile players like Daniel Brunskill and Ben Garland gives San Francisco flexibility upfront. Releasing Kwon Alexander with a post-June 1 tag is the most logical move as San Francisco would save about $13.4 million against the cap. That opens up space to sign a cornerback if needed.