For the San Francisco 49ers, frustration over their collapse in Super Bowl LIV will likely have been exacerbated by the lack of resources they have to bounce back from it.
The 49ers, per Spotrac, have only $17.8million of cap space to work with in an offseason in which Arik Armstead, Jimmie Ward, and Emmanuel Sanders will be free agents.
It is no secret that the 49ers are also looking to get extensions for George Kittle and DeForest Buckner done this year.
As a result, creating cap room should be a priority for San Francisco, and here we look at five players the 49ers should cut this offseason.
Salary cap numbers courtesy of Spotrac
RB Jerick McKinnon
Few players can claim to have had worse luck than McKinnon, who has not played a snap since signing a four-year, $30million deal with the 49ers in 2018.
A torn ACL he suffered before the start of the 2018 season required another surgery prior to the 2019 campaign. John Lynch said at the Scouting Combine this week that McKinnon had been medically cleared to play, with the general manager adding a possible contract restructure is on the table for the former Minnesota Viking.
While it is understandable for the Niners to want to see some return on their investment, this offseason is about saving money rather than saving face and San Francisco would save $4.55million by cutting McKinnon.
Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman, Matt Breida and Jeff Wilson all contributed to a dominant running game that averaged 4.6 yards per carry in the 2019 regular season and put the team on its back in the playoffs. Breida is a restricted free agent and Wilson is an exclusive rights free agent.
All four should, therefore, be back in 2019, leaving little reason for them to keep McKinnon on the books. There is more value in getting McKinnon off the roster than keeping him on it.
OG Mike Person
The 49ers collapsed in Super Bowl LIV in large part because of their inability to contain Chiefs defensive tackle.
Keeping elite interior defensive linemen in check is an extremely difficult thing to do. However, right guard Mike Person's struggles on the interior of the offensive line were stark, with the pressure that led to Jimmy Garoppolo's first interception conceded by the veteran right guard.
San Francisco would save $2.5million by releasing Person. No dead money is attached to his contract and, with the versatile Daniel Brunskill – an exclusive rights free agent – having filled in extremely well when Person was out through injury, the 49ers have a viable alternative.
The Niners are also expected to look for interior line help in the draft. Person has done a solid job in his second stint with the Niners but, in an offseason where the 49ers need all the wiggle room they can get, he is expendable.
QB C.J. Beathard
Following Nick Mullens' emergence in 2018, C.J. Beathard's presence on the roster in 2019 as a third quarterback was a significant curiosity.
With so little cap space at their disposal, carrying Beathard's $1.12million cap hit in 2020 makes no sense.
The 49ers would gain $946,000 in cap room by ending Beathard's tenure with the team a year early. That is not a significant sum in the wider scheme of things but, with Mullens almost certain to be back as an ERFA, it is money worth adding to San Francisco's pocket.
For a team attempting a financial balancing act this offseason, the days of spending money on a quarterback highly unlikely to see the field should be over.
LB Mark Nzeocha
A core special teams player who has previously filled in at linebacker when the injury bug has bitten, Nzeocha has done little to deserve being cut.
However, his release would provide the 49ers with an extra $1.5m. Nzeocha's days of playing defense for the 49ers are over, such is the depth at linebacker, and San Francisco should not have too much difficulty finding special teams help for a cheaper price.
Cutting Nzeocha would be something of a harsh move, but it may be a necessary one for the 49ers as they look to maximize their financial outlay.
WR Marquise Goodwin
Head coach Kyle Shanahan appeared to rule out cutting Goodwin when he spoke at the Combine this week. The 49ers head coach said Goodwin, despite a 2019 season derailed by injuries, is "too valuable" to release.
Shanahan indicated the 49ers could be open to trading Goodwin. That would be an astute move given their lack of draft capital but, if they're unable to do so, the 49ers may be forced to revisit cutting him to accommodate their efforts to bring back fellow receiver Sanders.
Goodwin offers field-stretching ability with his speed but would likely be down the pecking order on the depth chart behind Deebo Samuel, Kendrick Bourne and Sanders, should the Niners succeed in keeping him around.
The Niners could easily find a deep threat in an extremely deep receiver draft class to replace Goodwin, whose release would save them $3.65m. Shanahan clearly thinks highly of the former Buffalo Bill but, when the 49ers come to make the tough decisions, his words may prove hollow.