The recent release of Brian Jennings is only a flavor of what's expected to transpire over the next 8-12 months.
Jennings's release was purely moving to a younger and cheaper player, allowing for the 49ers to roll over unused salary cap space to next season. This will allow for the 49ers to aggressively resign Kaepernick, Iupati, Crabtree, A. Smith, and other core players on the roster.
That being said, there's still cap work that needs to be completed to resign these players, obtain key bargain free agents, and sign an expected large draft class in 2014. I bet were are going to see a youth and cost effective transition regardless of the outcome of the 2013 season.
Key positions and players to watch:
CB - Objective: Shed older talent and their salaries. Get younger, faster, and physical.
Potential Losses: Carlos Rogers ($8M in savings if cut), Tarell Brown (FA), Nnamdi Asomugha (FA)
Potential Replacements: Cox, Brock, Cooper, along with a high draft pick, would not even add up to Rogers's 2014 salary. Younger and cheaper, and you have Culliver and potentially Wright (FA) in the mix as well.
WR - Objective: Get healthy, and find more playmakers. May need to let older vets go to develop new generation of WRs.
Potential Losses: Anquan Boldin (FA), Kyle Williams (FA), Mario Manningham (FA)
Potential Replacements: Baldwin, Patton, and Moore. Baldwin wll be Boldin's understudy this season. Patton has flashed playmaking ability, and will be under contract for a few more years. Moore will have 1 year left.
S - Objective: Improve pass defense at SS, and identify a capable #3 safety that can play both positions.
Potential Losses: Donte Whitner (FA), C.J. Spillman (FA), and Craig Dahl ($1.5M in savings if cut)
Potential Replacements: Michael Thomas, Free Agent, Draft Pick. If Ventrone can play strong special teams, Dahl is a goner. Whitner and Spillman leave for more money. Thomas takes over one of the vacant roles, and we draft Dahl's replacement to save money.
DL - Objective: Improve depth at defensive line while reducing cost.
Potential Losses: Glenn Dorsey ($2.7M in savings if cut)
Potential Replacements: Tank Carradine, Quinton Dial, draft pick. If the 49ers are confident in Ian Williams's ability at the NT position, there's no reason to have such an expensive backup. Dial can flex to NT if needed, but I think the 49ers look to their PS or draft to replace Dorsey and save salary cap dollars.
We currently project to have about $7 million in salary cap space in 2014.
By cutting Rogers, Dahl and Dorsey after the 2013 season, you'll save almost $13 million in salary cap room for 2014.
We will also roll over approximately $4.5 million in current cap room to 2014.
In addition, I think Frank Gore will restructure and sign a 1 year extension, reducing his salary to $3 million, and saving the team the same amount.
Add all that together, and you get $27.5 million in salary cap room. I am very optimistic we can keep our core group of players together.