The San Francisco 49ers and quarterback Colin Kaepernick have decisions to make this offseason with regard to their future relationship. Kaepernick is signed through 2017, but holds an option to opt out in February. This year features a weak free agency class of quarterbacks. Of course, it is often a weak class because most quality quarterbacks are locked up long before they hit free agency.
If Kaepernick opts out, he becomes a free agent. If he does not opt out, the 49ers then have their own decision to make as to his future with the team. If they keep him, he will earn a $14.5 million base salary, with $400,000 in a workout bonus, and $2 million in roster bonuses. His cap hit would be $19,35,753. If the 49ers decide they want to move on, they would clear $16.9 million in cap space, and take a dead money hit of $2,465,753.
The 49ers have talked about completely rebuilding things, and are looking to create a clean slate in the coaching staff and football operations. However, there is a good chance Colin Kaepernick’s departure would be part of that cleaning of the slate.
Trent Dilfer recently appeared on KNBR to discuss the 49ers situation. At one point the hosts talked about needing to move on from Kaepernick if this would really be a clean slate. Dilfer had this to say:
“I can’t see any scenario where he’s still here. I think that’s probably going to be the first question that the GMs and the head coaches that are interviewing ask; or will be one of the first questions. And I thought Colin showed some signs at the end of the year that he was adapting better, and he was getting comfortable with Chip’s offense. And there were some signs late. I’m not trying to put whipped cream on a turd here, but it looked better towards the end of the year. But I don’t think it’s justification for him to be the quarterback here next year. I totally agree with you, that if you’re gonna start over fresh, it has to be completely fresh. There can’t be any of the carryover that the fans and everybody suffered through the last couple years.”
While I normally view Dilfer as a tool of management, he did acknowledge being very wrong about a lot of things involving the 49ers. And I think Dilfer’s comments in this instance are at least somewhat reasonable. Kaepernick is a flawed quarterback, but one who can find success with the right pieces around him. The 49ers do not have those pieces, and won’t have them anytime soon.
I would have no problem with them keeping him around as a bridge to the next quarterback, but I also can see why it makes sense to move on and end the relationship once and for all. I think the relationship improved this year, and it is hard to say what would happen with an entirely new front office. I don’t think this would be “forcing” a quarterback on a new coach, but I can see a new coach and GM just wanting to completely rebuild this thing, starting at the quarterback position.