Earlier today, Ian Rapaport reported that Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers have begun preliminary contract talks (via Twitter). While some believe that he could be looking at an elite payday, Dan Hanzus of NFL.com is less clear about what the quarterback’s value is. If the team is sold on his talents, the best chance they have of extending him on a fairly team-friendly deal would be this offseason.
2014 will be the last year on Kaepernick’s rookie contract, and although he was drafted in 2011, because he was not a first-round pick the 49ers do not own a team option for a fifth year of his services, like the Panthers do with Cam Newton. Kaepernick is scheduled to make just under $1MM before hitting free agency next season.
That free agency is something the 49ers would like to avoid. Hanzus writes that although Kaepernick took the league by storm after replacing an injured Alex Smith midway through the 2012 season, he struggled with consistency in 2013. The 26-year-old signal caller failed to throw for 200 yards in eight different games despite throwing for 412 yards to start the season and 310 yards to end it.
He also failed to throw for 200 yard in his final two playoff games, and turned the ball over three times in the fourth quarter of the NFC Championship Game against the eventual Super Bowl Champion Seahawks.
Kaepernick was reported saying that he was not likely to try to make his contract situation a point of contention, realizing that holding out for every last dollar would hurt the team’s ability to surround him with important players. While Hanzus makes note of the flaws in his seemingly superhuman talent, he still believes that Kaepernick’s potential upside is remarkably high, and writes that it would be a “a Tyson-in-Tokyo upset if Kaepernick ever reached the open market.”