The 49ers have reduced the 2014 salary of safety Craig Dahl, the primary backup behind starters Donte Whitner and Eric Reid in 2013. According the the NFLPA's database, Dahl's salary dropped from $1.35 million to $825,000, a savings of $525,000. The reduction was first noted by the website, ninercaphell.com.
If Whitner, who becomes an unrestricted free agent March 11, moves on to another team, Dahl would becomes the de facto backup, at least until the draft. However, sources at the combine in Indianapolis said the 49ers are now more optimistic they can re-sign Whitner, one of the veteran leaders in the locker room, than they were before the combine when they figured they would lose the veteran to a team with more salary-cap space. Whitner still could test the free-agent market. But he wants to be back with the 49ers, and there promises to be more room under the salary cap than previously expected.
That Dahl reduced his salary is another indication the 49ers don't envision a big role for him in the upcoming season. The team signed him to a three-year, $5.25 million free-agent deal last year.
Another option is special teams ace C.J. Spillman. He is big and fast, one of the hardest hitters on the team and also is bright. He's been used as a safety in goal-line situations over the past few years but otherwise has not had a big role on defense. I've been told by multiple sources that Spillman's issue is that he's a "9-to-5 guy." That is, he doesn't put in the amount of work coaches want to see from a starter.
The 49ers reduced receiver Jon Baldwin's pay from $1.4 million to $645,000 last week.
-- Matt Barrows