49ers reason No. 1: Laken Tomlinson ends up costing too much
The most logical explanations usually wind up being the biggest reasons why something is true, and the costs of retaining good players are challenges any team will face over the course of any given year.
Tomlinson will get to test NFL free agency for the first time in his career (he was extended after being acquired by San Francisco), and having just turned 30 years old, this might be his last best opportunity to cash in on what could be his biggest contract yet.
Even if the 49ers part ways with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, which they’re expected to do, they’d have only about $21 million in available cap space, and roughly $7 million of that will be needed to sign the team’s 2022 NFL Draft class.
Tomlinson, meanwhile, earned an average of $5.5 million per year over that extension, according to Over the Cap, but he might easily be seeking a new deal worth more than $8 million annually.
And the market for him could easily dictate that.
Eating up all but $6 million of the Niners’ remaining cap space probably wouldn’t be a smart business decision from San Francisco’s vantage point, and it’s a reality the team would have to face, understanding Tomlinson might have effectively priced himself out of the 49ers’ comfort range.