San Francisco 49ers: 5 players who’ll be cut before contracts expire

Kwon Alexander #56 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Kwon Alexander #56 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /
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Kwon Alexander, 49ers
Kwon Alexander #56 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /

No. 2: 49ers Linebacker Kwon Alexander

San Francisco made veteran linebacker Kwon Alexander one of its high-profile free-agent additions heading into 2019. And despite a torn pectoral halfway through the regular season, Alexander’s presence surely made a difference.

Yet that absence also opened up the prime reason why Alexander could end up becoming a cap casualty before his current deal is set to expire in 2022: fellow linebacker Dre Greenlaw.

Greenlaw’s ascent last season gives the 49ers an overabundance of top-caliber linebackers, and the simplest option is to free up playing time and cap space by parting ways with the most expensive player here, Alexander.

It won’t happen in 2020, of course. Not with questions about whether or not Greenlaw can match last year’s production, and it certainly has to include the fact cutting Alexander would actually harm the team’s cap situation, losing nearly $10 million instead of generating any cap savings this year.

In 2021, though, the 49ers could generate $13.4 million in cap space with only $3.12 million in dead money if he’s cut after June 1.

This wouldn’t be an easy decision if Greenlaw wasn’t in the picture. But Greenlaw is in the picture, making Alexander’s long-term hold on a roster spot precarious.