49ers general manager Trent Baalke denied Wednesday that he’ll have a hand in choosing the team’s starting quarterback, telling reporters (including Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com), “The head coach is going to decide who the starting quarterback is for the San Francisco 49ers.”
Responding to the notion that Kaepernick has a “dead arm” Baalke said, “His arm is tired. To say it’s dead, I wouldn’t make that assumption.”
The GM added that Kaepernick could begin ramping up his activities Thursday. The dual threat has dealt with several injuries since last year, including a left shoulder issue that required season-ending surgery in November. Kaepernick then experienced a turbulent offseason, one which featured him and his representatives pursuing a trade out of San Francisco. The 28-year-old nearly ended up in Denver, but a potential deal fell through after the 28-year-old refused a pay cut to join the reigning Super Bowl champions. With Kaepernick staying a 49er, he and Baalke finally ended their months-long silent treatment toward each other and spoke earlier this summer.
“We sat down a couple of weeks ago,” Baalke stated. “We had a good conversation. Colin is here to compete. All this stuff from the offseason, that’s behind us.”
As new head coach Chip Kelly decides which quarterback will start this year, a significant part of Baalke’s job includes looking ahead. With that in mind, he’s already focusing on locking up young players like cornerback Jimmie Ward and running back Carlos Hyde to contract extensions, reports Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). As members of the 2014 draft class, the pair will be eligible for new deals after this season.
Ward, the 30th pick, has logged 24 appearances and eight starts during his two-year career. All eight of those starts came last season for Ward, who partook in each of the 49ers’ 16 games, totaled 57 tackles, and picked up his first career interception and sack. In terms of overall 2016 performance, Pro Football Focus (subscription required) ranked Ward an impressive 35th among 111 qualified corners. He edged out teammate Tramaine Brock, who finished 36th.
Hyde, meanwhile, has obviously shown enough to the 49ers for them to believe he’s Frank Gore‘s long-term successor. Since going in the second round two years ago, the 6-foot, 235-pounder from Ohio State has averaged 4.1 yards per carry on 198 attempts. He accrued 115 carries, 470 yards and three touchdowns in seven games last year before his season ended in October thanks to a stress fracture in his left foot.
Because he wasn’t a first-rounder, the 49ers can only control Hyde through 2017. Ward’s deal, on the other hand, comes with a fifth-year option for 2018, which the 49ers will choose to exercise or decline next spring (if there’s no long-term deal by then). Thus, the 49ers will have the opportunity to retain him for three more years even without a new contract. For the time being, Hyde and Ward are scheduled to count for only small portions of San Francisco’s cap space over the next two years.
Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.