Upon hearing the initial report regarding Colin Kaepernick’s contract worth “up to” $126 million with $61 million “guaranteed,” it seemed that, if the deal were even remotely close to having a true value in that range, the 49ers would have to cry uncle in their negotiations with John Harbaugh’s brother.
If the team had made a commitment to Kaepernick that compels the organization to shell out, for example, $50 million over the next three years, coach Jim Harbaugh would have picked up considerable leverage in his quest for a new contract. After making a gigantic investment in the quarterback Harbaugh picked and groomed, the 49ers would have needed Harbaugh to help justify the commitment made to Kaepernick.
With the new deal actually being a year-to-year, pay-as-you-go contract, the 49ers have the flexibility to move on from Harbaugh and, in turn, from Kaepernick if the next coach wants his own guy to run the offense.
So that’s another reason for the team to be happy about the contract. It doesn’t put the team over a barrel to give their head coach a new one.