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If Kaepernick’s contract wasn’t a factor in his status, it should have been

SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 06:  Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers stands on the sidelines during their NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at Levi's Stadium on October 6, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

49ers coach Chip Kelly continues to insist that quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s contract had no role in his status as the backup to Blaine Gabbert, or in the decision to make Kaepernick the starter. If Kelly is telling the truth, it’s one of the dumber positions any team has taken in recent years.

Of course Kaepernick’s contract should be a factor in the question of whether he plays. With $14.5 million in salary guaranteed for injury only in 2017, the team could be on the hook for a lot of cash and cap space next year for a guy they were willing to trade to the Broncos in March.

And it’s not just a serious knee injury that wipes him out for a full year that would trigger the obligation. If Kaepernick incurs any injury that keeps him from passing a physical by April 1, when the payment becomes fully guaranteed, the 49ers will be stuck for the full amount — just as they were in 2016 with his $11.9 million salary.

How can that not be a factor in whether to play him? Kelly claims he doesn’t care about contracts. Well, he should. Even though the 49ers have plenty of cap space, every team has a cash budget, every year. If Kaepernick is injured beyond April 1, next year’s budget will include a $14.5 million line item for a player that they may not want to pay $14.50.

Regardless of whether it was or wasn’t a factor, the 2017 salary is now a reality for the 49ers. If Kaepernick, who supposedly weighs 20 pounds less than he has in the past, gets injured and if the injury persists for 5.5 months, the 49ers will be paying him a lot of money in 2017 — money that could go to other players.

But here’s the reality. Absent a decision to bench Gabbert, those supposed traffic jams that last for all three hours of a game would continue (and worsen), with fans checking out financially and emotionally and the team losing a lot more than $14.5 million in value as 49ers faithful find other things to do with their time and other places to spend their cash.

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34 Responses to “If Kaepernick’s contract wasn’t a factor in his status, it should have been”
  1. realfann says: Oct 11, 2016 3:47 PM

    Kap has been the active backup on game day for every game this year. That means he’s been one hard hit on Gabbert away from playing each and every week. And Gabbert is a running QB.

    Clearly the Niners have not placed Kap’s contract ahead of fielding their best team and good for them in doing that.

  2. badrobot74 says: Oct 11, 2016 3:51 PM

    It shouldn’t be a factor at all. Maybe I’m looking with rose colored glasses, but winning should take precedent over any and all contract worries….. if he gets hurt, so be it… but find out if you have the best guy playing the most important position on the field. I’m not a Kaepernick fan, but Gabbert is costing the team games… time for a switch

  3. wrossi81 says: Oct 11, 2016 3:53 PM

    Sites that are not PFT are reporting that Kaepernick is about to restructure his contract precisely to get rid of the guaranteed money.

    But given the disaster of a product on the field, I’m not sure why anyone other than ownership should expect to be associated with the team next year to care.

  4. Moyda says: Oct 11, 2016 3:53 PM

    Does Justice Ginsburg approve?

  5. willycents says: Oct 11, 2016 3:57 PM

    Just to see what the risk is: See the Redskins and Browns with RGIII. Kept him off the field all last year and he get injured first game of the season this year.
    Kaep will get a concussion (no way to prove true or not) and suffer “symptoms” until after next April. Gets a cool stack of $100 bills for doing nothing again. 9ers have to restructure to protect themselves.

  6. pastabelly says: Oct 11, 2016 3:59 PM

    badrobot74 says:
    Oct 11, 2016 3:51 PM
    It shouldn’t be a factor at all. Maybe I’m looking with rose colored glasses, but winning should take precedent over any and all contract worries….. if he gets hurt, so be it… but find out if you have the best guy playing the most important position on the field. I’m not a Kaepernick fan, but Gabbert is costing the team games… time for a switch.
    =======================================
    So, you’re team management should always just go for it and disregard the future. Why not just trade all of your draft choices for players? That thinking is a bit archaic. You need to manage for both the long term and short term. Evening if Kaepernick were actually good, the way he plays the game, he’s an injury waiting to happen. Why be on the hook for $14.5 Million when it’s not necessary?

  7. maust1013 says: Oct 11, 2016 4:01 PM

    It was absolutely a factor and the restructure will be announced at some point

  8. bleedingfacemask says: Oct 11, 2016 4:01 PM

    wrossi81 says:
    Oct 11, 2016 3:53 PM
    Sites that are not PFT are reporting that Kaepernick is about to restructure his contract precisely to get rid of the guaranteed money.
    ——————–
    If he does this, he’s a fool. I wouldn’t wager $14M on wanting to play

  9. mmack66 says: Oct 11, 2016 4:06 PM

    I don’t understand why people expect a team that fired Jim Harbaugh for Jim Tomsula, to suddenly begin making sound football decisions.

  10. mackcarrington says: Oct 11, 2016 4:16 PM

    If NFL teams are terrified of guaranteed money in contracts, then why do they offer them in the first place?

  11. excusemewhileiwhipthisoutagain says: Oct 11, 2016 4:22 PM

    I don’t think any franchise has gone from Superbowl competitor to joke as quickly as SF.

  12. koudoes says: Oct 11, 2016 4:22 PM

    It’s not like niners need the cap space so in that respect….
    Because if it mattered so much, then they would’ve RG3 him.

  13. dansardo says: Oct 11, 2016 4:26 PM

    Of course the reason they haven’t been playing him up until know is the injury guarantee. They think it is very possible, even likely that Crap will play like….well Crap and they don’t want to be on the hook if he gets hurt.

    The 49rs are starting crap because he has “agreed” to restructure his contract (lets see if he follows through and if the 49rs are actually smart enough to make him) and they are in a desperate situation.

    In the final analysis, starting crap is going to make some of the fans happier, at least for a game or 2, but it isn’t going to save the 49rs season, they are well beyond that.

  14. mmack66 says: Oct 11, 2016 4:26 PM

    When did this contract go from team friendly to Kaep friendly?

    They would have been better off just giving him a regular contract without all of the injury clauses.

  15. scrp2 says: Oct 11, 2016 4:27 PM

    Kaep’s agent got blasted when the details of this contract came out a couple years ago. Turns out it wasn’t half bad.

    So this story is a couple weeks ago before the game Baalke tried to get Kaep to sign some papers voiding the injury part. He gave Kaep a pen so Kaep could sign the papers on Baalke’s back. Of course, Kaep told Trent his agent and lawyers have to review.

    These ain’t the days of Bill Walsh and Carmen Policy anymore.

  16. nomoreseasontix says: Oct 11, 2016 4:27 PM

    Compassion=complain.
    Stupid phone

  17. fumblenuts says: Oct 11, 2016 4:29 PM

    Krap is a SHELL of his former self…………….

  18. bighoser says: Oct 11, 2016 4:36 PM

    “If he does this, he’s a fool. I wouldn’t wager $14M on wanting to play”
    ————
    He’s not wagering anything as that $14M is ONLY guaranteed for injury. If they gave him the RG3 treatment (which I’m sure they threatened), they could have released him after the season for zilch. This way, they can still play him without being on the hook in case he gets hurt and he’s a few million richer while he tries out for other teams next year. Win-win.

  19. dalvar1001 says: Oct 11, 2016 4:37 PM

    BTW to the fan s that bought seat licenses and pay for tickets. Let’s see fire Harbaugh because he takes this rudderless team to three NFC championship games and a SB. Hire Tomsula a great DL coach. Keep Trent.

    Thanks for your trust

    Jeb York

  20. dalvar1001 says: Oct 11, 2016 4:43 PM

    Just trying desperately to get some interest from FANs. Same fans they hosed last two years. Thanks Jeb

  21. Packernet says: Oct 11, 2016 4:45 PM

    So, you’re team management should always just go for it and disregard the future. Why not just trade all of your draft choices for players? That thinking is a bit archaic. You need to manage for both the long term and short term. Evening if Kaepernick were actually good, the way he plays the game, he’s an injury waiting to happen. Why be on the hook for $14.5 Million when it’s not necessary?

    __________

    So you would rather pay a guy to do nothing for a year?

  22. tonebones says: Oct 11, 2016 5:16 PM

    If the 49ers would have kept Harbaugh instead of Baalke, Kaepernick would probably have a couple super bowl trophies. He was dominating the rest of the league when Jed decided to pull the plug on Harbaugh. Coincidently, it was right when the new stadium deal got approved. The 49ers should give Kaepernick a huge bonus because he’s taken a lot of attention away from the destructive behavior of this organization.

  23. bleedingfacemask says: Oct 11, 2016 5:18 PM

    bighoser says:
    Oct 11, 2016 4:36 PM
    “If he does this, he’s a fool. I wouldn’t wager $14M on wanting to play”
    ————
    He’s not wagering anything as that $14M is ONLY guaranteed for injury. If they gave him the RG3 treatment (which I’m sure they threatened), they could have released him after the season for zilch. This way, they can still play him without being on the hook in case he gets hurt and he’s a few million richer while he tries out for other teams next year. Win-win.
    ———
    That’s the point: if he gets injured this season, then they cut him for zilch, how many of those other teams are willing to give him $14M for next season? Heck, it’s unlikely another team would give a healthy Kaep $14M next season.

    In other words, if he gets severely injured after restructuring his contract, he likely loses $14M.

    Besides, Kaep WON’T be a few million richer, unless the 49ers are going to throw in an additional few million dollars in a restructured contract for this year.

  24. jgedgar70 says: Oct 11, 2016 5:28 PM

    excusemewhileiwhipthisoutagain says:
    Oct 11, 2016 4:22 PM

    I don’t think any franchise has gone from Superbowl competitor to joke as quickly as SF.
    _____
    It took the 49ers 2 years to become a joke. My Panthers did it in 8 months.

  25. thegreatgabbert says: Oct 11, 2016 5:36 PM

    @tonebones – You do realize that Harbaugh and Kaepernick went 2-6 in their last 8 games together. Not exactly steamrolling the opposition at that point.

  26. thegreatgabbert says: Oct 11, 2016 5:50 PM

    What happened with the clause requiring Kaepernick to buy his own injury insurance? Was that just for a career ending injury? At this point in time any injury which gets him benched for a time would be effectively “career ending”. Once his 49er contract ends I doubt any other team will want to deal with him.

  27. styro1 says: Oct 11, 2016 5:51 PM

    He better get a haircut.

  28. pga33 says: Oct 11, 2016 5:59 PM

    Kawakami says niners tried to get Kaepernick to agree to restructure…without his agent present during the so-called “negotiations.”
    Typical of a low class, lowballing organization. Niners agreed to the contract, stick to it.

  29. thegreatgabbert says: Oct 11, 2016 6:01 PM

    The worst thing about the injury clause in his contract is that he abused it for his own benefit. Going to a private doctor to get unnecessary surgeries that were delayed long enough to ensure that he wasn’t fully fit by April 1. So the 9ers and the league were stuck paying him another $12 million at least. Clever Squidward, but that harms the chances of other players in the future getting similar protection. Squeezing a legal point for personal benefit always weakens those points in terms of future application. Like car crash injury scammers who drain the system.

  30. stash918 says: Oct 11, 2016 7:58 PM

    His afro is bordering on Fletch territory when he has the dream of playing for the Lakers.

  31. JSpicoli says: Oct 11, 2016 8:44 PM

    You say that like Squidward is going to do anything other than suck while playing QB, as is his track record without a supporting cast from the HOF.

    Can’t wait to see the trainwreck Sunday.

  32. JSpicoli says: Oct 11, 2016 8:47 PM

    If he does not restructure he is going to stand there until someone hits him like the GEICO ad.

  33. wyrdawg says: Oct 11, 2016 11:09 PM

    Man, all he needs is a powder blue jumpsuit with some sequins and I’d watch him on the Midnight Special. Come Sunday? Nah. Should’ve got some draft value out of the guy. But hey, I guess that’s why I’m commenting instead of running an NFL team.

    Oh! And Chip Kelly lies out all 5 sides of his neck.

  34. mark0226 says: Oct 12, 2016 12:12 AM

    If he’s the best QB on the team, then they expect him to play next year too, so why would it be a factor?

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