The San Francisco 49ers fell short in Super Bowl 54 on Sunday as the Kansas City Chiefs overcame a double-digit deficit to hoist the Lombardi Trophy. Despite the heartbreaking defeat, there’s not much time for the players to contemplate the loss and have to turn their attention to the offseason.
Even though San Francisco lost the game, there’s still reason for optimism moving forward. In just Kyle Shanahan’s third season as the head coach, he was able to turn the 49ers into a Super Bowl contender.
One of the reasons why San Francisco was able to have such a rapid turnaround was due to their offseason moves in the past two seasons. For the 49ers to repeat their success in 2020, they’ll need to continue improving their roster.
With a month until free agency begins, the 49ers are expected to have only $21 million in cap space, per Spotrac. Given the team’s current cap situation, San Francisco is going to need to restructure contracts, release players, or even trade players.
The most vital decision that the 49ers need to make this offseason is whether or not to retain Arik Armstead. If they want to re-sign Armstead, San Francisco is definitely going to need to free up some more money. With that in mind, here is one player that could be a surprising roster cut for the 49ers this offseason.
Before the 49ers landed Nick Bosa with the No. 2 overall pick in last year’s draft, San Francisco was hoping that Solomon Thomas was going to develop into a premier edge rusher. Back in 2017, San Francisco selected Thomas with the third-overall pick out of Stanford.
When the 49ers drafted Thomas, they expected him to make an immediate impact on the defense. Instead, three years into his career, Thomas still hasn’t gotten acclimated to the NFL.
In his first three seasons, the Stanford product has combined for only six sacks, 16 tackles for loss, 23 quarterback hits, and one fumble recovery. This season, Thomas saw a minimal role with the 49ers due to the addition of Bosa and Dee Ford.
Heading into next season, Thomas holds a cap hit of $8.9 million (sixth-most on the team). By releasing the former first-round selection, the 49ers could create another $4.3 million in cap space. However, Thomas would induce a $4.6 million dead-cap penalty if he were cut.
Ahead of the trade deadline in 2019, the 49ers attempted to trade Thomas. Seeing that he’s still on the roster, San Francisco was unable to find a suitor to take the 24-year-old defensive end.
In this case, releasing Thomas would solely be a move that showed that San Francisco doesn’t believe he’s part of their future. It’s important to realize that he would likely be joined by others so the 49ers could expand their cap space.