The starting point for this one comes from a report that, given the performance of 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in recent weeks, is fairly obvious: According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, Kaepernick will exercise his right to void his contract after the current season, but Kaepernick could indeed be back with the 49ers in 2017.
Even if/when Kaepernick voids the contract, the 49ers will still hold exclusive negotiating rights until the 2017 league year begins in March. Whether the 49ers will try to re-sign Kaepernick depends in large part on whether ownership presses the reset button.
The 49ers currently have lost 10 games in a row, and there’s a growing belief that G.M. Trent Baalke won’t be back. Would ownership also move on from coach Chip Kelly, or would the team set up an inherently awkward and dysfunctional arrangement in which a G.M. is hired but is prevented at least for a year from hiring his own coach?
If Baalke goes, the best approach could be to elevate assistant G.M. Tom Gamble and let Kelly and Gamble run the show. If that happens, Kelly may want to keep Kaepernick around.
The other question is whether any other team, owner, G.M., or coach will shy away from Kaepernick given his refusal to stand for the national anthem. Regardless of whether it should be a factor (it shouldn’t), the reality is that any team considering the addition of a veteran quarterback (and there likely will be plenty of them) will at least consider the impact of signing a signal-caller who may spark hundreds of angry callers to local sport-talk radio claiming that they will never attend or watch another game if Kaepernick becomes an employee of the team.
The easy part of this is coming to the conclusion that Kaepernick will be available to all 32 teams. The hard part is figuring out where he will land — especially with open questions about the future of the 49ers and the potential impediment arising from his position on non-football issues.