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Golden Nuggets: Is Fred Warner’s extension the 49ers' next move?

Your daily San Francisco 49ers links for Wednesday, March 23, 2021

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San Francisco 49ers v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

That San Francisco 49ers added some much needed beef upfront by signing 334-pound Zach Kerr. Seven years ago, I interviewed and wrote about Kerr being an the best value at nose tackle in the 2014 NFL Draft. We’ve come full circle. At 31, Kerr is coming off the best season of his career. The Niners have added depth in the trenches and at safety.

The strength of the draft is at cornerback, quarterback, and wide receiver. That’s where the 49ers remaining needs are as of today.

Why Seahawks signed 49ers sacks leader Kerry Hyder to 3 year deal

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter who got the numbers right from Hyder’s agent, the deal for Hyder is 3 years $16.5 million “With upside to $17.5 million.” This most likely does not mean that it is $16.5 million guaranteed, and rather that the extra $1 million is most likely incentives.

Hyder is a very intriguing signing, as many readers may have no idea who he is despite him being the 49ers leader in sacks for 2020 with 8.5. He also took down Russell Wilson in the backfield for one of those during the 49ers Week 8 loss in Seattle.

Trent Williams says he was near Kansas City Chiefs deal before San Francisco 49ers got him back with record contract

“Once I got the hunch that K.C. seemed like they were ready to make it official, I called Kyle,” Williams said Tuesday. “I couldn’t even get it out and just tell him, but I was just like, ‘Hey man, we need to hurry this up, if you get my drift.’”

“I thought I would either get a lot of money and be somewhere I hated to be or I would be somewhere I love to be playing for a discount,” Williams said. “I definitely didn’t think it would be both.”

49ers running out of backup QB options after Joe Flacco joins Eagles

The biggest question is why the 49ers either did not pursue strong enough or could not convince Mitchell Trubisky to sign with the club. Trubisky is young, athletic and, seemingly, a good fit for coach Kyle Shanahan’s system.

But Trubisky ended up with the Buffalo Bills on a low-money, one-year contract. Backup options Tyrod Taylor (Houston) and Jacoby Brissett (Miami) also signed elsewhere.

We can understand why the 49ers did not land Andy Dalton or Ryan Fitzpatrick. Those players went to Chicago and Washington, respectively, for starting opportunities.

The 49ers are running out of options.

Are the 49ers Clearing Salary Cap Space to Extend Fred Warner?

However, there is another path the 49ers can take with their newly found salary cap space. That path is by giving All Pro linebacker Fred Warner his well-deserved extension.

The 49ers need as much freed up cap space that they can manage if they want to retain Warner in the long-term. He is not going to be cheap. Warner is better than most of the top-paid linebackers such as C.J. Moseley who has the largest guaranteed money for a linebacker at $43 million.

So are the 49ers clearing salary cap space to extend Warner?

New York Jets build around Quinnen Williams with 49ers-based blueprint - New York Jets Blog- ESPN

Big changes are happening on defense. The Jets will be running a 4-3 base front for the first time since 2005, Herm Edwards’ final year as coach. They were a multifront defense the past two seasons under former coordinator Gregg Williams, but now it’s primarily a 4-3. Saleh is installing the defense he learned with the Seattle Seahawks and tweaked during his four-year run in San Francisco.

In 2019, Saleh’s second-ranked 49ers defense fed off the line, which included ends Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead and tackle DeForest Buckner. It also had nose tackle D.J. Jones, swing man Solomon Thomas and pass-rushing specialist Dee Ford.

Saleh is trying to use that blueprint to elevate the Jets, who allowed a franchise-high 457 points in 2020.

Dee Ford and the 49ers believe in the edge rusher’s return: A contract breakdown

At the moment, Ford’s cap charge for 2022 is set to be $11.9 million, but that might change through multiple avenues. For one, nothing in the incentive column — which generally hinges on Ford replicating that 2018 career year with the Chiefs — is currently hitting the cap because it’s classified as NLTBE (not likely to be earned).

If Ford does return to health and meets some or all of his incentives (playing time is included), some 2022 numbers will become LTBE (likely to be earned) and his cap hit will increase.

So as it stands, Ford’s deal is officially worth about $14 million over two years but can increase in value to the full $24 million over two years given those NLTBE incentives.