The team-friendly contract signed by 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was team-friendly not just because the team has the annual ability to cut Kaepernick loose and avoid future guaranteed money. It also was team-friendly because it pays Kaepernick far less than the top end of the market.
So if new coach Chip Kelly can get the most out of Colin Kaepernick, they’ll have a quarterback at a reasonable price, relative to the current cost of quarterbacks.
For 2016, Kaepernick costs $11.9 million. For 2017, he’ll be at $12.5 million. Come 2018, the salary is $13 million. For 2019, it’s $16.8 million. For 2020, it’s $19 million.
Much more money gets unlocked if he ever becomes a first-team All-Pro or takes the 49ers to the Super Bowl (he also must participate in 80 percent of the snaps). And he has $2 million per year tied to per-game roster bonuses.
The dollars are big but they’re not huge, especially if Kelly can get Kaepernick performing more like he did under Jim Harbaugh and less like he did under Jim Tomsula.
For now, it’s still not clear whether the 49ers intend to see whether Kelly can accomplish that, because no one knows whether the 49ers plan to keep Kaepernick. Including Kaepernick.
Via Can Inman of the San Jose Mercury News, Kaepernick wasn’t consulted by the team during the coaching search, and he’s unsure how to react to the news that Kelly is the coach because Kaepernick is unsure whether the team wants him back for 2016.
Everyone will have an answer by April 1. That’s when Kaepernick’s salary for 2016 becomes fully guaranteed. If he’s still on the roster then, he’ll most likely be on the team this year.
For anyone looking for a hint, consider this: The clearance sale at the team’s website on Kaepernick jerseys is now over.