Salary-cap look: Defense

April, 15, 2014
4/15/14
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Let’s take a look at how the San Francisco 49ers' 2014 salary-cap status currently breaks down, thanks to ESPN Stats & Information.

The 49ers have about $4 million under the cap and will get another $6 million-plus June 1 because of the Carlos Rogers cut. Most of that money will go to signing the rookie class.

At this time of year, only the top 51 contracts count toward the salary-cap. Here's a position-by-position look at the 49ers' salary-cap situation under the top 51 rule. We looked at the offense on Monday. Now, let’s look at the defense:

Defensive line

Percentage of salary-cap space used: 15.23

Total cap charge: $19,519,371

NFL average: $21,632,204

Biggest cap hit: Justin Smith, $6,936,667

Biggest bargain: Tony Jerod-Eddie, $495,000

Outlook: The 49ers are getting pretty good value out of this position. Smith is nearing the end of his career, but he is still productive. Defensive tackle Ray McDonald’s cap number is more than $5 million, but he’s also productive. The rest of the unit are pretty reasonably priced.

Linebackers

Percentage of salary-cap space used: 22.69

Total cap charge: $29,083,725

NFL average: $15,201,455

Biggest cap hit: NaVorro Bowman, $7,050,000

Biggest bargain: Michael Wilhoite, $570,000

Outlook: The 49ers are paying their linebackers almost double the league average. But it is perhaps the best unit in the NFL. Thus, they are getting what they pay for. Even though he is taking up the most cap room, Bowman will miss about half the season because of a torn ACL. Wilhoite has the best chance to replace him. This position could be even more expensive next year. Aldon Smith has a cap number of more than $4 million this year. The 49ers may give him a 2015 option with a price tag of more than $9 million. But again, the value is there from this group. With quarterback Colin Kaepernick getting more money soon, the 49ers will have to take cap room from other positions, with running back an area that could be reduced in 2015.

Cornerback

Percentage of salary-cap space used: 3.62

Total cap charge: $4,645,719

NFL average: $12,316,626

Biggest cap hit: Tramaine Brock, $2,000,000

Biggest bargain: Darryl Morris, $495,000

Outlook: Along with quarterback (and that will change soon), this is the 49ers’ biggest bargain area. They pay their cornerbacks more than 60 percent less than the NFL average. Yes, the group is young and that is a reason for the low average. The 49ers may use a first-round pick at the position and that will change things. But this position will remain a relative bargain for the next few years, which will help expected raises at other positions.

Safety

Percentage of salary-cap space used: 7.63

Total cap charge: $9,784,111

NFL average: $8,237,006

Biggest cap hit: Antoine Bethea, $3,000,000

Biggest bargain: Eric Reid, $1,927,444

Outlook: The 49ers are just above the league average at safety, but they get production. Reid, a first-round pick last year, gives great value and they also get strong special teams production from C.J. Spillman, Bubba Ventrone and Craig Dahl.

Bill Williamson | email

ESPN Oakland Raiders reporter

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