San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick underwent shoulder surgery Tuesday morning in Colorado, and the procedure wrapped up late in the morning. Matt Barrows is reporting a source said the labrum tear was extensive, and the recovery period is expected to be four to six months.
Kaepernick's 2016 base salary is currently guaranteed for injury, and becomes guaranteed for skill and cap on April 1, 2016. For those wondering, that is a shade under four months and a week from now. If Kaepernick can pass a physical on or before April 1, the 49ers could trade or release him and that would be that. However, if he cannot pass a physical it raises numerous questions.
I imagine Kaepernick is getting the surgery so he can maximize the time he has to get back to 100 percent. The easiest resolution for Kaepernick would be getting released and having the freedom to sign wherever he wants. Yes, he would be out a lot of future money, but it gets him out of what has become a toxic situation.
However, the 49ers will likely look to trade him at some point to get some kind of return. Kaepernick did them a relative solid by taking a lower signing bonus when he first signed his deal. It was meant to give the 49ers some up-front money to potentially sign guys like Michael Crabtree, Mike Iupati and others. That obviously has not happened, so I imagine Kaepernick will not be inclined to do them a similar solid on getting a trade done. The team could find someone willing to take on his salary, and that will be that. But odds are good any trade would require a restructuring of his $11.9 million base salary for 2016. He could do that, or he could tell the 49ers to kick rocks, and force them to release him. He would be out some money, but he would have the freedom to figure out his future on his own.
However, if Kaepernick's non-throwing shoulder does not come around over the next four months, it would be interesting to see what kind of negotiation takes place. The 49ers have the cap room to carry his salary into the 2016 season, but this situation is not exactly a great one for the two sides. One option is that if Kaepernick's shoulder is not at 100 percent as April 1 approaches, they try and negotiate some kind of settlement and release. The 49ers could hold onto him after April 1 and continue trying to trade him, but at that point Kaepernick would have the leverage since his salary would be fully guaranteed. It will be an interesting period leading up to April 1, 2016.