It’s unclear how the rumor got started of the 49ers supposed willingness to trade Colin Kaepernick. One possible explanation is this: The 49ers are indeed trying to trade him. The other possible explanation is that, in the imperfect chain of human communication that results in the truth being inadvertently twisted, chatter about the 49ers having until April 1 of each year to determine whether to keep him around and about the possibility that they’ll move on in 2016 based on how he performs in 2015 morphed into the notion that they’d trade him now.
For several reasons, the strong denial of the trade rumor from G.M. Trent Baalke makes sense.
From a football perspective, who’s the quarterback if the 49ers trade Kaepernick? Blaine Gabbert?
From a business perspective, how can the 49ers justify running Kaepernick out the door in the same year that Jim Harbaugh and Frank Gore were run out the door — and in the same year that Justin Smith likely will retire and another key player to be named later today won’t be back with the team? To the casual fan, the notion that the quarterback who not long ago was proclaimed by Ron Jaworski to be one of the potential all-time greats wouldn’t be back for the second season in a swanky new stadium that is generating cash out the wazoo (whatever a wazoo is) would justify a revolt against the front office.
For several other reasons, it’s hard to completely dismiss the possibility that the 49ers would consider a trade, if the trade would result in another quarterback coming to town.
What if they offered Kaepernick plus a first-round pick to Tennessee for the second overall selection? That would guarantee the acquisition of Jameis Winston (#winwithclass) or Marcus Mariota. Once that conversation happens, it becomes impossible to keep the other team from blabbing.
Also, Kaepernick’s close ties to Harbaugh may put the 49ers in a no-win situation. The alternative to trading him now would be to let him struggle for a year or two before moving on. But if/when he struggles, some will say that’s all the more reason the 49ers shouldn’t have gotten rid of Harbaugh, who would have helped Kaepernick not struggle but grow.
Either way, there’s a lingering sense that Harbaugh’s departure makes Kaepernick an eventual former 49er, too. The team-friendly, year-to-year contract Kaepernick signed last year serves only to make that perception stronger.