SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- In assessing the selling points he believed would work to the San Francisco 49ers' advantage in their search for a new head coach and general manager, team CEO Jed York pointed to money.
No, not how much York would be willing to pay either position,but the amount of money a new regime would have to spend to improve the football operation. Or, more specifically, the salary cap flexibility that awaits.
"We're going to have the opportunity with a lot of salary cap room," York said at his season-ending news conference. "There are some pieces here. I don't think there are enough pieces here, but there are some pieces that we can build around. But, again, it's got to be a partnership. It's got to be a collaboration between me, the head coach, and the general manager so that we can get this thing right."
Just how much salary cap room the Niners figured to have depended on how much of the leftover space the team had in 2016 would be carried over to 2017. York vowed that the team would roll over all of its available unspent cash.
"We've always rolled over the salary cap, so that's easy to say," York said.
According to figures released by the NFLPA this week, York followed through on that promise, as the Niners rolled over $38,708,916. It was the third most money a team rolled over in the league and the most of any team in the NFC.
Wondering which teams will have the most 💸 to spend this offseason? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/uDNgOZfn6O
— NFLPA (@NFLPA) January 18, 2017
To be clear, that's not the amount of salary cap space the Niners will have in 2017. Rather, it's how much space they had left in 2016 that they can now add to whatever space they were already projected to have in 2017, a surplus of sorts.
While the official salary cap amount for every team in the league has not yet been officially set by the NFL, the Niners were already projected to have more than $40 million in available cap space. According to Spotrac.com, combining the already available cap space with the carryover would leave San Francisco with a projected $83.6 million in cap space for 2017.
It's also worth noting that though the Niners could re-sign some of their own before free agency begins, there's a good chance that number will actually increase before the start of the new league year in March. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick has the ability to opt out of his contract, an option he's expected to exercise. If Kaepernick does opt out, it would clear another $16.9 million. If he opts in, the Niners could still choose to release him and free that money up in the process.
It seems unlikely the Niners will dive deep into free agency to sign a bunch of big names in hopes of a quick turnaround, there's no doubt they'll have the money and flexibility to begin this rebuild however they see fit.