The calendar has turned to April, and with it came a notable deadline for many players around the league. Teams often include contract language dictating that certain parts of a deal become guaranteed. It does not guarantee a player is on the roster come Week 1, but it makes it that much more likely considering the team had multiple weeks in free agency to release the player.
For the San Francisco 49ers, April 1st increased the likelihood that running back Tevin Coleman will remain on the roster when Week 1 arrives. Coleman’s contract had no fully guaranteed money for year two, until April 1st, when a $2 million injury guarantee became fully guaranteed (h/t David Lombardi). If the 49ers had chosen to release him any time before April 1, he would have cost them nothing against the salary cap. If they were to release him now, it would cost them $2 million. The 49ers currently have roughly $13.9 million in cap space, per Over The Cap, and while that offers some flexibility, $2 million would sting.
This is notable from a fantasy football perspective because the team still has an excess of backs on the roster — making it that much more difficult to project out a starter. Coleman is joined by Matt Breida, Raheem Mostert, Jerick McKinnon, and Jeff Wilson on the depth chart. The team could have released McKinnon as well, but restructured his contract to give him another shot at providing some return after two straight seasons lost to injury.
The team also placed a second round tender on Breida, who was a restricted free agent. There is speculation this could mean they are working to trade Breida, but for now, he remains on the roster. Given the glut of backs, a Breida trade would not be surprising, and in light of their other moves, makes the most sense. Mostert could be a candidate as well, but given that he’s signed through 2021, it seems more likely he would be kept.
Whatever the case, there would seem to be a shoe meant to drop at some point that offers at least a little bit of clarity to this backfield. For the time being, Mostert is probably the best investment if you want a 49ers back on your fantasy roster. He led the team in rushing the final six weeks of the regular season, and again in the NFC title game and the Super Bowl. As currently situated, he would be a fringe RB2 with RB1 upside while we figure out what the rest of the backfield entails.