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Kurtenbach: The 49ers can afford to pay Nick Bosa, and there’s (still) no good excuse why they haven’t

Kurtenbach: The 49ers can afford to pay Nick Bosa, and there’s (still) no good excuse why they haven’t

The 49ers are still paying Dee Ford.

They can pay Nick Bosa.

The 49ers are still paying Trey Lance, whom they traded last month.

They can pay Nick Bosa.

The 49ers are still paying Jimmie Ward, who now plays for the Texans.

They can pay Nick Bosa.

The 49ers are still paying Trey Sermon.

OK, OK, you get it.

The question for the 49ers isn’t whether they can afford to pay Nick Bosa but if they want to pay the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year what he wants.

That means making him the NFL’s highest-paid defensive player, over the Rams’ Aaron Donald.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the Niners don’t seem keen on surpassing the $31.7 million per season.

Which is strange, because they’re paying Ford, Lance, Ward, and Sermon a combined $23.76 million against this season’s salary cap, per OverTheCap.com.

Money is not an issue for this team.

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And yet the narrative persists that Bosa’s ask is somehow not “team-friendly.”

Not owner-friendly, sure. Cut that check, Jed.

But the notion that money in the NFL is zero-sum is absurd.

The 49ers are — and will continue to be — in a tight salary cap situation for the next two seasons, no matter what happens with Bosa.

In fact, the more Bosa makes on his next deal, the more the Niners will have to pay the rest of the roster.

Counterintuitive? Sure. But that’s the NFL salary cap for you. If the Niners sign Bosa to a new deal, San Francisco will likely need to restructure and extend existing contracts to create some salary cap space for the next few seasons. That means more money (and perhaps even more up front) for players like Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, Trent Williams, Fred Warner, Javon Hargrave, and Charvarius Ward.

Seems pretty “team-friendly” to me.

On top of that, the Niners can structure the Bosa deal so that by the time big money kicks in, the Niners will be able to sunset big deals from likely declining veterans — George Kittle and Arik Armstead, to name two.

The Niners ridding themselves of top veterans might sound ridiculous today, but give it a few seasons. The NFL is a brutal and fast-changing league.

And in 2025, Nick Bosa will be playing his age-28 season. That should be Prime Bosa, as top pass rushers don’t typically fade until 32 or 33 years old. If the Niners decide to buy out all of Bosa’s top years (a win for both team and player), they can ignore back-loading the contract — they can middle-load it.

Also, while the Niners have expensive players, the team has a starting quarterback making $3 million over the next three seasons. The most expensive quarterback on the roster is Lance. Yes, still. These are the years to spend.

Add in an NFL salary cap with more holes than an Oakland road, and all the hand-wringing and excuses about paying Bosa come across as vacuous or downright biased.

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If Bosa isn’t worth the largest contract for a defender in NFL history, who is?

And if the 49ers can’t afford to sign Bosa, why did they sign Hargrave to a four-year, $81 million deal this past offseason? Why did they buy a second-division English soccer team this summer?

The time for posturing and excuse-making has long ago passed. Threats have been ignored; leverage has been noted.

The team has a game on Sunday. A real one. Against a good team. But the Niners appear poised to enter the season without their best player because they can’t agree on a deal that should have been done in March.

That’s on the team. It’s embarrassing. And no amount of boot-licking and astroturfing will change that.