The 49ers are on the outside of the playoff picture, and the relationship with head coach Jim Harbaugh has been tumultuous all season. Despite tremendous success in Harbaugh’s first three seasons with the team, reaching the NFC Championship Game three years running, the fear is that the relationship between the head coach and the organization is beyond repair.
The tension has been documented numerous times here at Pro Football Rumors, from early on this season to as recently as the day after the Niners’ Thanksgiving loss to the Seahawks. The team seems prepared to move on from Harbaugh, and hopes to continue the success they experienced during his tenure.
Losing Harbaugh will hurt, but it could be a lot worse if the team believes they will lose their starting quarterback as well. Colin Kaepernick is a product of Harbaugh, drafted by him and a favorite of his. Harbaugh himself was a former NFL quarterback, and his ability to rein in Kaepernick’s best characteristics has no doubt brought out the best in his early development as a passer.
Kaepernick of course, has struggled, and if he continues to regress, especially without the coach who drafted him, the team may be forced to move on from him.
Such a possibility is plausible due largely to the nature of the contract extension he signed with the team. The contract included a small amount of guaranteed money, with a small signing bonus and big yearly salaries. Therefore the team can cut him after any season it decides he is no longer worth the money.
His 2015 base salary stands at $12.4MM, but rises incrementally all the way up to $21MM in 2020.
Because of the nature of Kaepernick’s contract, the team figures to stick with even in a post-Harbaugh world, as long as he continues to improve and show signs of promise as the franchise quarterback, says Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com. Maiocco writes that the team could be interested to see how his game evolves under a new set of circumstances on offense.