The 49ers Have Done A Fantastic Job At Structuring Team-Friendly Contracts

The 49ers made a number of big splashes this offseason. They got a pass-rusher in Dee Ford, a 24-year old LB in Kwon Alexander, and a RB in Tevin Coleman, who has excelled with Kyle Shanahan in the past.

With Jimmy Garoppolo set to return from injury and the No. 2 overall pick in their back pocket, 49ers fans should be hyped for 2019.

The 49ers also have a behind-the-scenes superstar that no one talks about. His name is Paraag Marathe.  

One of the many roles Marathe has with the 49ers is the team’s chief contract negotiator and salary cap architect.

You rarely hear the 49ers as a team in salary cap hell. There’s a good reason for that. Take a look at how Marathe and the 49ers brass structure contracts:


  • Kwon Alexander: The reported deal was a 4-year, $54M deal with $27M guaranteed. When you look into how the contract was structured, it could really end up being a 1-year, $14.5M deal. Alexander will earn $10.25M of his guarantees in Year 1 with a cap hit of a little over $11.5M. If he plays well, the 49ers can continue paying him on a year-by-year basis. If Kwon doesn’t live up to expectations, San Francisco would owe him just $3M more in guaranteed money. That means they can cut him with just $3M in dead money after 2019. From there, his dead money total drops by $1M in each of the next two years. 


  • Dee Ford: The reported deal was a 5-year, $87M deal with $45M guaranteed. Ford’s contract is also front loaded and San Francisco could easily get out of it if he doesn’t work out. Ford gets $14.6M in 2019, most of which is made of his $20.5M in guarantees. The remaining $25.25M is only guaranteed for injury. If Ford was not to work out in 2019, the 49ers can move on and only suffer $6.4M in dead money for 2020. Ford’s deal could essentially be looked at as a 1-year, $21M deal. After 2019, it will be wait and see for San Francisco.


  • Tevin Coleman: The reported deal was a 2-year, $10M deal. Coleman will get $3.6M in 2019. There is no signing bonus in this deal, which mean the 49ers could move on after 2019 with no dead cap hit. This deal could essentially be looked at as a 1-year, $3.6M deal. After 2019, it will again be wait and see for San Francisco.


The 49ers did the same thing last offseason with Jimmy Garoppolo.

  • Jimmy Garoppolo: The reported deal was a 5-year, $137.5M deal. Garoppolo’s guarantees in year one was a whopping $42.6M and his cap number was $37M. The deal was again completely front loaded. His cap hits over the next four years are rather modest. If Garoppolo doesn’t pan out, the 49ers can get out of the contract after the 2020 season. Garoppolo’s contract with the 49ers is essentially a two-year deal and “we’ll see.” Releasing Garoppolo in 2020 would only bring a $4.2M dead money charge.

Last year, USA TODAY polled 25 agents and the 49ers came out as the league’s “best” prepared team for contract negotiations. Marathe deserves a lot of that credit. It’s yet to result to on-field success but they sure are close.

Here is Marathe speaking about the 49ers cap situation in 2017:

(L-R) John Lynch, Richard Sherman, Ashley Moss (Sherman’s wife) and Paraag Marathe

At the end of the day, the original numbers that are reported are essentially pointless. It’s always important to wait on contract details before assessing the value of a contract. In the case of the 49ers, deals are almost entirely front loaded with a team-friendly out in the first or second year.


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