The 49ers will be inclined to trade quarterback Colin Kaepernick in part because his contract currently carries more than $31 million in guaranteed money over the next three years. That portion of the contract could make it harder for Kaepernick to be traded.
Which means that Kaepernick possibly would have to agree to a revised deal in order to facilitate a trade. But why should he? Any new deal he signs with a new team as part of a trade could be signed with that same team after he is released.
And that’s where this could be likely heading. The 49ers have until April 1 to cut or trade Kaepernick before his base salary for 2016 becomes fully guaranteed. Kaepernick could just dig in his heels, refuse to restructure, and wait for the money to become fully guaranteed — or for Kaepernick to be free and unfettered to join a new team without that new team having to give up anything to get him.
This scenario assumes that Kaepernick will be healthy before April 1. If he’s not, the situation becomes a lot more complicated, with the 49ers potentially on the hook for his salary even if they cut him before April 1.
Regardless, a trade may be the best-case scenario at this point for the 49ers, but it may be impossible to pull off. There’s a chance that no one will want to inherit Kaepernick’s deal, and that Kaepernick won’t want to do a new one in order to allow the 49ers get something for him in return.
His decision ultimately may hinge on whether he feels compelled to try to help the 49ers. Given the perception/reality that the 49ers helped themselves to Kaepernick’s willingness to do a team-friendly deal, the 49ers shouldn’t count on Kaepernick doing another solid for San Francisco.