49ers get under salary cap but not the way you think

A San Francisco 49ers helmet (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
A San Francisco 49ers helmet (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images) /

The 49ers were roughly $9.5 million above the salary cap for 2022 with just days to go, yet they didn’t take the simple route to get under the cap.

The San Francisco 49ers didn’t have as terrible a cap situation as some other teams out there entering 2022, namely the New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers. Yet the Niners did have to figure out how to clear approximately $9.5 million before the start of the league 2022 new year, according to Over the Cap.

There was one fairly easy way to go about doing this, of course, and that would have been to trade off or outright release quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, freeing up $25.5 million in the process and getting San Francisco comfortably below the cap.

And as the hours counted down to the start of the league new year, that’s precisely what many a fan and expert felt would happen.

However, Garoppolo’s market has cooled. A lot. Teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers and Washington Commanders have already made their moves for quarterbacks, and it’s not clear whether or not the 49ers will be able to move him by the 4 p.m. ET start of the NFL new year on March 16.

Instead, the Niners had to take a roundabout move, restructuring the contracts of tight end George Kittle and defensive tackle Arik Armstead, as reported by ESPN’s Field Yates Wednesday morning:

While the exact details of Kittle’s restructure isn’t known just yet, Armstead’s breakdown will look like the following, according to The Athletic’s David Lombardi:

The cap is also expected to increase dramatically in 2023, thanks to new television and betting-revenue deals across the league, but Armstead will command some hefty cap hits after this season regardless.

San Francisco should be at approximately $198.9 million now, though, which would put it comfortably below the $208.2 million cap threshold and able to attack NFL free agency more vigorously.

49ers still plan to shop Jimmy Garoppolo

What this means for the 49ers’ plans with Garoppolo is they no longer have to commit to having him moved by the league new year.

It’s still somewhat of a risky proposition, and it might be fair to question whether or not the Niners overvalued Garoppolo at a time when plenty of quarterback-needy teams were exploring all their options.

Still, it doesn’t look as if San Francisco will hold onto Garoppolo long term and further delay the seemingly inevitable point where 2021 rookie quarterback Trey Lance takes over starting duties.

The 49ers are likely to see what happens with another quarterback, the Houston Texans’ Deshaun Watson, who is reportedly being targeted in a trade with the Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons, before making a move.

Should that big domino fall, the Niners may still be able to take advantage of whichever team doesn’t land Watson and its own needs under center.

Next. Ranking 49ers' 10 best trades in franchise history. dark