Yesterday in Part 1 of this three-part series, I listed five prominent 49ers who could leave the organization after 2020.
This is Part 2. Here are five more 49ers who could hit the road after next season.
1. Wide Receiver Kendrick Bourne.
Bourne enters the final season of his contract in 2020, and he currently is the 49ers’ highest-paid wide receiver. So unless he wins a starting job in training camp, the 49ers probably will make him take a pay cut just to stay on the team for next season.
And then they probably will let Bourne leave when he becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2021.
The 49ers clearly don’t view Bourne as a starting-caliber wide receiver -- that’s why they traded up for Brandon Aiyuk in Round 1 this year. In 2021, the 49ers probably would like their top-three receivers to be Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd -- three recent high draft picks. Bourne was an undrafted free-agent. He never was part of the 49ers’ long-term plans.
But he’s a solid player, and some team will sign him to be a starter or a No. 3 receiver in 2021. Just not the 49ers most likely.
2. Guard Laken Tomlinson.
In 2017, the 49ers traded a 2019 fifth-round pick to the Lions for Tomlinson, a former first-round pick. Detroit practically gave him away. Which was strange, considering Tomlinson has played well for the 49ers since they acquired him. He has been a quality addition from the bargain bin.
But after 2020, Tomlinson's salary-cap hit will jump to $6.25 million -- he’ll become expensive. And he’ll be 29. And if the 49ers cut Tomlinson in 2021, they’ll save $5 million in cap space. And the Niners might want that cap space more than they want Tomlinson.
So rookie fifth-round pick Colton McKivitz could replace Tomlinson at left guard after next season.
3. Nickelback K’Waun Williams.
Williams has been one of the 49ers’ most consistent defensive players since he joined the team in 2017. But in 2021, he’ll be a 30-year-old unrestricted-free-agent nickelback. And he could be expensive -- he forced six turnovers in 2019 (two interceptions, four forced fumbles).
Rather than give an aging nickelback a raise, the 49ers could replace Williams with Emmanuel Moseley, who started at nickelback during last year’s training camp because Williams missed August after having a knee scope. And Moseley played well at nickelback during camp. And he’s much younger and cheaper than Williams.
4. Running Back Tevin Coleman.
Coleman might not even make the team in 2020. If the 49ers cut him, they’ll save almost $3 million in precious cap space. They could replace him with Jerick McKinnon if McKinnon recovers from knee surgery and makes the team.
If the 49ers keep Coleman for 2020, he’ll become an unrestricted free agent in 2021. And they’ll have no real reason to re-sign him, because Raheem Mostert is signed until 2022, and the 49ers have a handful of young, cheap, talented running backs, such as Jeff Wilson Jr., JaMycal Hasty, Salvon Ahmed and Josh Hokit.
Coleman is the least efficient and most expensive running back on the roster. The 49ers probably won’t keep him much longer.
5. Tight End George Kittle.
Kittle will be an unrestricted free agent in 2021. John Lynch has said he wants Kittle on the 49ers for a long, long time. But does Lynch want to meet Kittle’s contract demands?
Kittle is one of the best players in the NFL -- he’s like a combination of an offensive tackle and a wide receiver. He’s elite in every way. So he’s worth roughly $20 million per season, not $10 million per season, which is what the highest-paid tight end currently earns.
Can the 49ers afford to pay $20 million per season to a non-quarterback while they pay Jimmy Garoppolo $27 million per season?
The 49ers clearly felt they couldn’t afford to pay DeForest Buckner $21 million per season, and he's younger than Kittle. So they traded him to the Colts for a first-round pick. If Kittle is like Buckner and refuses to give the 49ers a discount, could they trade him, too?
If Kittle cuts the 49ers a deal, of course he’ll stay. But blue-chip players usually want blue-chip contracts. Why should they settle for less?
We’ll see if the 49ers pay up or trade Kittle like they traded Buckner.