49ers news: Training camp starts, roster sizes and cuts, oh my!

San Francisco 49ers during training camp (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
San Francisco 49ers during training camp (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images) /

The 49ers have a much clearer picture regarding how training camp and the 2020 season will kick off, and Niner Noise breaks it all down.

Things just got a lot more clearer for the San Francisco 49ers and the other 31 teams across the league on Friday, as both the NFL and players union’s executive committee agreed to some principles set in place ahead of training camp and the 2020 season.

There have been plenty of challenges facing the league in light of COVID-19, particularly for the Niners and Santa Clara County, which has reinstituted widespread shutdowns amid a spike in coronavirus cases. Not long ago, some were wondering whether or not head coach Kyle Shanahan’s squad would be able to kick off camp on time after an offseason filled with remote workouts.

Santa Clara County has since approved the team’s plan to return to practice, which is good news, and training camp is currently scheduled to begin on Tuesday, July 28. Yet there are still possibilities of players opting out of the upcoming season, which has been the case in other sports like MLB and the NBA.

Players will have until Monday, Aug. 3 to decide whether or not they want to sit out the 2020 season.

Meanwhile, Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer broke down camp’s schedule, which is similar to the previously used phase program:

"Day 1: Testing/virtual meetings. Days 2-3: Virtual meetings. Day 4: Testing/virtual meetings. Days 5-6: Physicals. Days 7-15: Strength and conditioning (with a day off.) Day 16: Practice starts. Day 21: First padded practice."

Alterations to 49ers, other teams’ offseason/53-man rosters

One of the big changes stemming from the offseason adjustments is the number of players a team can keep on its pre-Week 1 roster. Usually, it’s 90. But that number has been cut down to 80 players, meaning 320 hopefuls are going to see their NFL dreams likely come to a close in the very near future.

There are some caveats here, though, as pointed out by The Athletic’s Lindsay Jones:

What this means is the 49ers, and every other team for that matter, will have an option of either trimming rosters down to 80 players right now before camp begins or wait until Aug. 16 to make those cuts.

It’s likely head coach Kyle Shanahan and Co. will opt for the latter.

On top of that, each team’s practice squad will increase from the previously agreed-upon 12 players up to 16. Six of those players don’t have to fall into the usual category of no more than three accrued seasons to be eligible for the practice squad, and at least four of the squad’s players can be protected from other teams signing them on a week-to-week basis.

Decreased 2021 salary cap, effects on 49ers

Another one of the notes stemming from Friday’s developments was the news the 2021 salary cap was going to decrease from the $198-plus million where it currently stands to $175 million next season. This, due to the anticipated revenue loss amid the pandemic.

Currently, San Francisco has invested financial commitments of just over $173 million for its 2021 roster. But that does not include some high-profile free agents such as cornerback Richard Sherman, offensive tackle Trent Williams, fullback Kyle Juszczyk and tight end George Kittle, among many others.

Needless to say, general manager John Lynch and his staff will have some key cap decisions to make between now and then. It’s possible the team engineers some extensions and restructurings to work around the deflated cap, anticipating a rise in cap space in 2022 and beyond. But that’s anyone’s guess.

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Hat tip to Niners Nation for the accrual of information.