The San Francisco 49ers’ running quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, was placed on injured reserve today with a torn labrum in his left (non-throwing) shoulder. Almost immediately after the team made the announcement today, it appeared both sides started scrambling to get their respective sides of the story in front of the curious eyes of the public and media. Mindi Bach’s timeline describes the odd saga well, so I’ll let her take over for a bit.
#49ers Colin Kaepernick didn’t show up on the practice report, which lists injuries, until this week. Was a full participant Wed. & Thurs.
— Mindi Bach (@MBachCSN) November 21, 2015
#49ers Colin Kaeprnick was listed as probable yesterday. This morning the team out him on IR ending his season.
— Mindi Bach (@MBachCSN) November 21, 2015
Here’s how CSN Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco described what might be turning into a “he said, he said” situation:
After returning from the bye week, Kaepernick reported soreness in his left shoulder, according to 49ers spokesman Bob Lange. However, the source close to Kaepernick said the quarterback first reported the discomfort in his shoulder to the 49ers’ athletic training staff after the 49ers’ Oct. 4 game against the Green Bay Packers. Kaepernick made the 49ers’ next four starts.
We’re getting into murky territory, because the injury was to his non-throwing shoulder and guys play through pain all the time in the NFL. There’s nothing in Maiocco’s report that says the 49ers insisted Kaepernick didn’t report any soreness before the bye week, just that Kaepernick came back to the facility after some time off and reported soreness.
Kap’s ridiculous contract
It’s unbelievable what Kaepernick and his agents agreed to, it really is.
- He forfeits $875,000 in roster bonuses for missing seven games ($125K/game).
- Kaepernick would’ve gotten paid out if he suffered a career-ending injury, but he paid an insurance premium so in case that happened, the 49ers would get a $20 million payment.
- Only two quarterbacks, Jay Cutler and Joe Flacco, signed deals worth more than Kaepernick’s “total” of $114,000,000. But Kaepernick received less guaranteed money in his deal ($12,973,766) than 23 signal-callers, including Alex Smith ($19,000,000).
- The 49ers can release Kaepernick any time before April 1 without having to pay him another dime, provided he isn’t injured. Bleacher Report’s Jason Cole doubts an injury like this would “trip the injury (guarantee) in Kaepernick’s contract.”
When he negotiated his extension, Kaepernick asked the 49ers if the structure of his deal would give the team flexibility to keep their best players and add talent. This makes sense — Tom Brady’s current deal pays him just $9,000,000 per season and $8,000,000 guaranteed. However, the Patriots have just $2,208,252 of cap space — they’re the fourth-closest team to the cap. The 49ers, meanwhile, have the fourth-most cap space in the league — $13,279,787, behind only the Jaguars, Browns and Raiders — after allowing starters at tailback, receiver, left guard and cornerback to leave via free agency.
It would appear Kaepernick sought a second opinion (and he’ll have surgery soon to repair his torn labrum) once he realized that he was in a losing situation with the 49ers, who probably didn’t want him to see the field again due to the injury guarantee in his contract. So he’s getting as healthy as possible now, because there will be opportunities to start or at least lock down a backup job with a good team in 2016.
After all, Kaepernick’s pedestrian 78.5 quarterback rating was still higher than ratings posted so far by Nick Foles, Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning, Ryan Mallett, E.J Manuel, Zach Mettenberger, Jimmy Clausen and Blaine Gabbert, who have combined to start 40 games this season. Manning’s backup, Brock Osweiler, is a free agent after this season. So is Drew Stanton, who sits behind Carson Palmer in Arizona. Matt Hasselbeck is a free agent. The Cowboys need to figure out a suitable backup to Tony Romo, who’s a very old 35. Ryan Fitzpatrick is the only Jets quarterback worth a damn, and he’ll also be a free agent.
Kaepernick will get some positive attention, for the first time in a while, once he becomes a free agent. But it seems unlikely that any team is going to be dumb enough to trade for him before April, since everyone knows the team/QB relationship has completely soured and the 49ers would rather place a Jim Harbaugh statue outside Levi’s than pay Kaepernick an eight-figure salary in 2016. This isn’t even close to the Alex Smith situation, where a quarterback who just came off his most efficient half-season was available and making a modest salary, as far as starting quarterbacks go.
49ers’ near-term future
It’s Gabbert and nothing. They’ve promoted Dylan Thompson, an undrafted free agent from South Carolina, from the practice squad. If teams try to knock out Gabbert and succeed (not that the Seahawks would ever do such a thing), the 49ers are completely screwed … except in terms of future draft position.
And that has to be the plan anyway. They need one of the top quarterbacks in the draft. The top quarterbacks in the draft certainly don’t need the 49ers and their porous offensive line, antiquated offensive goals (“durrr, we’re gonna run the football”) and constant turmoil. But the 49ers should be tanking at this point, and unless the league somehow doesn’t figure out how to stop Gabbert when the team’s most talented available running back is Shaun Draughn and the most talented available tight end is Garrett Celek, they’ll move up the draft order as this wretched season grinds down to the bitter end.