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49ers create $9.5 million in cap space by converting Dee Ford’s base salary into a signing bonus

Is the team clearing up cap space to make a move?

NFL: FEB 02 Super Bowl LIV - Chiefs v 49ers Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Per ESPN’s Field Yates, the San Francisco 49ers have created $9.5 million in cap space by converting Dee Ford’s base salary into a signing bonus. Ford’s cap hit from 2020 went from $15.9 million to $6.4 million. Earlier in the week, general manager John Lynch said the Niners were “out of cash” when asked if they were signing Jadeveon Clowney. After this move by Dee Ford, and restructuring Tom Compton’s contract, Over the Cap has the 49ers at around $19 million in cap space.

Converting Ford’s salary will make it more difficult to cut Ford next season if the team decides to do so. By converting Ford’s salary into a guaranteed bonus—which the 49ers will essentially write-off over the final three years of his deal—the team is saying they’re expecting Ford on the roster in 2021. That is unless they’re willing to eat an extra $3 million in dead money next offseason.

Instantly, everyone has wondered what move is coming for San Francisco? Jadeveon Clowney? A Trent Williams extension? Or is this a cap maintenance move that creates space for the future as any unused cap space rolls over into the next year. My initial take wasn’t that the Niners would make a splash move, but extra cash allows them to guarantee more money upfront to a potential player that was a surprise cut over the next 24 hours. It’s all speculation. We’ll find out soon enough.