It is not easy building a Super Bowl roster but it is even more difficult maintaining it. San Francisco was introduced to that harsh reality nearly a month after their loss to the Chiefs. Defensive tackle DeForest Buckner was traded to Indianapolis after the team made the decision to re-sign Arik Armstead. The 49ers used their first round return to draft Buckner's replacement and the additional funds allowed them to sign key players like safety Jimmie Ward.
CBS Sports examined the five best value contracts on the team's roster entering the 2020 season.
1. George Kittle, tight end
2020 salary cap hit: $2,207,574
When pondering the skill talent available to Jimmy Garoppolo, the average NFL fan's mind goes to Kittle before any of the team's wide receivers. He, along with Travis Kelce of the Chiefs, has established himself as one of the top two tight ends in the game. The former fifth-round selection from Iowa has recorded at least 40 receptions in each of his three seasons, including 85 receptions for 1,053 yards and five touchdowns during the Super Bowl runner-up season.
Kittle is entering the final season of his rookie deal. Cleveland rewarded Austin Hooper with a four-year deal that averages $10.5 million annually -- the highest deal ever given to a tight end. Kittle will reset the market at the position when he signs his next deal. CBS Sports' Cody Benjamin considers Kittle to be the second best tight end in the NFL.
2. Fred Warner, linebacker
2020 salary cap hit: $1,096,547
Warner was ranked the No. 9 linebacker in the league by CBS Sports' Sean Wagner-McGough. He was ranked even higher by CBS Sports' Jordan Dajani in his verbal defense of the linebacker rankings on the Pick Six Podcast -- CBS Sports' daily NFL podcast. The BYU product is often an afterthought on a defense that features household names such as Arik Armstead, Nick Bosa and Richard Sherman. However, as Wagner-McGough noted, only nine linebackers have recorded more tackles than Warner (242) over the past two seasons.
San Francisco is getting a bargain having to pay the linebacker little more than $1 million in 2020.
3. Mike McGlinchey, offensive tackle
2020 salary cap hit: $5,092,302
The Notre Dame product has been a reliable deterrent for San Francisco since he was selected No. 9 overall in the 2018 NFL Draft. The price of roughly $5 million is small potatoes compared to the $14 million average salary that Jack Conklin -- the top free agent right tackle signed by the Browns -- received this offseason.
General manager John Lynch has been able to streamline other financial assets to their highly successful defensive front. McGlinchey has three years left on his rookie deal, including the fifth-year option.
4. Deebo Samuel, wide receiver
2020 salary cap hit: $1,749, 399
Samuel was effective in a variety of roles for San Francisco last season. Upon a parting of ways with Emmanuel Sanders and Marquise Goodwin, Samuel should be leaned on even more heavily for the defending NFC champions. Head coach Kyle Shanahan is one of the most creative-thinking offensive minds in the league and will have no dilemma scheming the South Carolina product open. In his first season, he recorded 57 receptions for 802 yards and three touchdowns.
First-round selection Brandon Aiyuk will certainly be integrated into the offense but not at the expense of Samuel. It is worth noting that defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw, the No. 14 overall selection, and Aiyuk were excluded from this list because they have not yet produced and the team had more than enough other candidates to justify.
5. Jimmie Ward, safety
2020 salary cap hit: $3,906,250
Ward was signed to a three-year extension that will pay out nearly $29 million. The salary cap hit does not escalate until 2021 though, which means that the safety is still a value for the upcoming season. The 28-year old recorded 65 tackles, one sack and eight pass deflections last season. Over the course of six seasons, he has played just one full season. In the other five, he has missed a total of 32 games. The former first-round pick's value is contingent upon his health. When on the field, his roughly $4 million salary is a steal despite the position being generally devalued.