Did NFL screw over 49ers in recent salary cap punishment?

Roger Goodell at Super Bowl LVIII - San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs
Roger Goodell at Super Bowl LVIII - San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs / Ryan Kang/GettyImages

The 49ers are seeing a 2024 draft pick dropped in order and a 2025 pick forfeited because of a payroll violation. Is it fair?

There's a strong likelihood that news surrounding the San Francisco 49ers' recent payroll violation will be forgotten in a matter of days, then brought up briefly on day three of the 2024 NFL Draft, forgotten again and then mentioned once more (probably for the last time) again on day three of the 2025 draft.

On Monday, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported that the Niners mistakenly committed a "payroll accounting error" from 2023 that would result in the league taking action.

Per Pelissero, San Francisco will watch its 2024 fourth-round pick drop to the very "end of the fourth round, behind the compensatory picks."

Additionally, the 49ers will forfeit their own Round 5 pick in the 2025 NFL Draft, per the report.

Pelissero also stressed the misstep was done with "no intent to circumvent the cap," and the Niners "would have remained under the salary cap at all times regardless of the error."

San Francisco subsequently released a statement agreeing with the punishment, as well as an intent to cooperate moving forward.

Still, was it too harsh a punishment?

Were 49ers punished too hard by NFL for payroll violation?

A day-three draft pick might not seem like much, but the 49ers have had success there in previous NFL Draft classes. Tight end George Kittle, quarterback Brock Purdy and safety Talanoa Hufanga are recent Pro Bowlers and All-Pros all taken in Rounds 5 through 7.

Plus, forfeiture of the pick could hinder the Niners' abilities in trading up at earlier points in either year's draft.

There are very few precedents set for violations of these, but Jason Fitzgerald over at Over the Cap felt that the punishment for last year's mistake was "pretty harsh."

Related story: Full list of 49ers draft picks in 2024, 2025 and beyond

Had San Francisco gone over the cap at any point last season, it'd be a different story. Since it didn't, perhaps Fitzgerald has a point.

Either way, one might expect there to be some extra internal auditing going on for the 49ers this year and beyond in light of today's developments.

Read more from Niner Noise