ORLANDO, Fla. -- The 49ers began discussing a contract extension for quarterback Colin Kaepernick last month, and coach Jim Harbaugh on Monday said it was a high priority to have that completed this offseason.
The priority is that Colin Kaepernick is a San Francisco 49er for however long we can have him be a San Francisco 49er, Harbaugh said at the leagues annual meeting. So its definitely a high priority. Hes an amazing individual, an amazing player.
Harbaugh then explained why he thought Kaepernick deserved a deal.
He shows up at work all the time, he said. Theres really no one that competes with him in a workout situation. He will bury everybody. And then when somebody tries to compete with him, he ramps his competitiveness up, and somebodys over their knee throwing up. Hes unbelievable. So you can tell I feel hes a great player, a high priority.
The price tag for a starting quarterback begins at $18 million a season, which is what Dallas Tony Romo and Chicagos Jay Cutler received in deals struck within the last two years. Kaepernick is scheduled to earn $1.073 million in 2014, the final year in his original four-year contract. Backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert, by comparison, is scheduled to earn $2.011 million this season.
The two sides first began discussing an extension at the scouting combine last month. Its not known whether those talks will continue in Orlando, although the 49ers top negotiator, team president Paraag Marathe, is in town.
Gabbert and McLeod Bethel-Thompson are the only other quarterbacks on the roster. The 49ers could add a quarterback in the draft, and Harbaugh has attended recent workouts for Eastern Illinois Jimmy Garoppolo and Virginia Techs Logan Thomas.
Three years ago, Harbaugh watched Gabbert, who eventually was taken 10th overall by Jacksonville, work out at Missouri.
Another really good player, Harbaugh said. And where he was picked in the draft was evidence of that.
Still, he said the 49ers, who had the seventh overall pick that season, never intended to take Gabbert in that spot. In fact, they had no plans to take a quarterback anywhere in the first round that year.
That was something wed talked about as an organization and, really, we personally made that promise to Alex Smith that we werent going draft a quarterback at No. 7, Harbaugh said.
At the time, the 49ers had every intention of re-signing Smith, who then was a free agent, but they could not do so until July because of the lockout. The 49ers took Gabberts teammate, linebacker Aldon Smith, atNo. 7 and traded up nine spots in the second round to take Kaepernick with the 36th overall pick.
Kaepernick took over the starting role the following season after Smith suffered a concussion. And early in 2013, the 49ers traded Smith to Kansas City for two second-round draft picks.
As for Gabbert, Harbaugh said the quarterback reminded him of nose tackle Glenn Dorsey, another top-10 draft pick who fell short of expectations with his original team, Kansas City. The 49ers signed Dorsey as a free agent last year, and he started 13 games
Said Harbaugh of Gabbert: He can write a new chapter and has the ability to say, It wasnt me; it was my situation.
Read Matthew Barrows blogs and archives at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers.