SF 49ers: 5 players who could be surprise cuts this offseason

San Francisco 49ers defensive end Dee Ford (55) Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
San Francisco 49ers defensive end Dee Ford (55) Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /
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Robbie Gould, SF 49ers
Robbie Gould #9 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

The SF 49ers face some tough decisions entering 2021, meaning these five players could end up being surprise roster cuts.

SF 49ers general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan have done an admirable job of putting together a roster capable of competing for a Super Bowl. And despite dealing with a swarm of injuries in 2020, that’s not the biggest test Lynch and Shanahan will face moving forward.

It’ll be maintaining that Super Bowl-caliber roster.

It would be one thing if the Niners were swimming in cap space. But with the 2021 salary cap projected to drop as low as $175 million next year, San Francisco is predicted to have just over $23 million in available cap space with a plethora of high-profile free agents it would like to have back.

This ultimately means the likelihood of roster cuts next season, perhaps some of the rather shocking variety.

It’s not unlike some of the moves the SF 49ers made last season, namely trading away Pro Bowl defensive tackle DeForest Buckner and letting wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders walk in free agency — moves intended to save cap space to maintain the remaining roster’s core.

Executing these five roster cuts could easily be the next step in ensuring that core stays together.

No. 5: SF 49ers kicker Robbie Gould

San Francisco made a mistake inking veteran kicker Robbie Gould to a four-year, $19 million deal back in 2019, which made him the second-highest-paid kicker in the league.

While having a reliable kicker is always important, Gould accounting for just under 2.5 percent of the team’s 2020 salary cap isn’t exactly the best use of resources.

Especially considering his 88.9 field-goal percentage this season is squarely in the middle of the pack of all kickers.

Freeing up money will be essential for the SF 49ers’ continued success, both in terms of extending current players and re-signing others poised to hit the open market. Doing so with Gould in 2021 could free up as much as $4.5 million in much-needed cap space.

Even though Gould does have his share of clutch field goals during his four-year tenure with the Niners.