What if they don't, or can't?
I know, you don't let a franchise QB walk away, you get the deal done, I know. But keep in mind that Trent Baalke and the rest of this front office haven't paid top-QB money in a very, very long time. Will it really be a foregone conclusion that they'll hand over a potentially cap-crippling deal to Kaepernick if he commands top-five NFL dollars after his 2013 season?
Sure, I want them to do WHATEVER it takes to keep him around. He's the first legitimate chance we've had at owning an elite QB since drafting Alex Smith. I don't mean that as a sleight to Alex, either, but I think 99.9% of us can agree that Kaepernick has a MUCH higher ceiling and is already playing as well or better than Smith ever did. We haven't had QB play this exciting since...Steve Young?
But what if Kaepernick storms the league this year, is a top-five player in all of the important QB stats, and he and his agent demand to be paid as the top player in the NFL? Do I think he'll deserve it, hell yes I do. But we've seen what happens when teams have to commit so much cap to one player. The 49ers haven't had to give any one member of the team THAT kind of money in what, a decade?
The team is where it is in part due to the management of the cap, the ability to re-sign players to lucrative, long-term extensions because they have the cap room to do so. That becomes a LOT harder when roughly 20% of your cap is tied-up in your QB. That means that QB better be able to physically win games, despite not having the greatest players around him, on his own.
It's a tough recipe, granted the inverse (winning without a great QB) is, as well. So what are the chances, zero? Maybe a slight chance? What are the odds that Kaepernick somehow is NOT a 49er for the next 6+ years?