The NFL announced this week that the salary cap will increase to approximately $130 million when the season opens on March 11. This is good news as all 32 teams will face tough decisions on which veterans to re-sign and what direction to go in the draft. The San Francisco 49ers will now get extra opportunity to keep their great defense intact or tap into free agency waters, or both. Let’s take a look at a few scenarios that this cap increase could create for the Niners.
The 49ers have about $7 million more under the cap than they did last week. This certainly opens up some doors. The first thing that comes to mind is that they could afford now to re-sign Anquan Boldin. Boldin proved to be a wonderful addition to the 49ers offense last year. Although San Francisco is predominantly a smash-mouth offense, young Colin Kaepernick needs as many weapons around him as possible to make this offense fire on all cylinders.
Staying on the offensive side of the ball, San Francisco could use the extra cap room to either pay Jonathan Goodwin enough not to retire yet or to lure a free agent to take his place. The question for the Niners is whether Goodwin will retire and whether they want to pay big money for a 36-year-old center. There is a lot to think about there.
The extra $7 million could help the Niners get a new deal done with their franchise quarterback. Kaepernick has certainly proven that his abilities are heading in the right direction and that he can fill the role as the leader of the San Francisco 49ers. He is a very athletic guy with a cannon of an arm, and his decision-making continues to improve. It is definitely time to pay Kaep what he has earned.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Niners could keep some key components intact with the increased cap space. Carlos Rogers could stick around even with his rather large paychecks. San Francisco could also afford to re-sign Donte Whitner, who is a cog in the wheel of the Niners’ hard-hitting defense.
With Navorro Bowman out until at least mid-season, the 49ers may want to dip into free agency to add depth at linebacker. It could also be time to extend a guy like Aldon Smith, whose on-the-field performance has been very good thus far.
It will be interesting to see how it all plays out. Will the Niners use the money to re-sign current players or bring in new blood? One thing is for sure: the NFL’s salary cap increase will improve the fortunes of the 49ers.
Charles Tribou, San Francisco 49ers Contributing Writer, can be followed on Facebook at Chuck Tribou