New 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan confirmed Thursday that he’ll call the team’s offensive plays next season. Still in question is who will be relaying those orders in the huddle.
The 49ers have only one quarterback under contract for next season, Colin Kaepernick, but his situation is tenuous. Kaepernick could choose to opt out of his deal and test free agency, or the 49ers could try to get out of the contract.
First, though, general manager John Lynch said the parties will meet to talk about whether Kaepernick has a place in the 49ers’ new offense.
“We’ll sit down with him and if we see fit that he’s a part of it, we’ll commit to that,” Lynch said Thursday. “If not, we’ll figure things out.”
Kaepernick appeared in 12 games last season, starting 11, completing 59.2 percent of his passes for 2,241 yards, 16 touchdowns and four interceptions. Blaine Gabbert, who started the other five games last season, is an unrestricted free agent this offseason along with Christian Ponder and Thad Lewis.
Shanahan, who until last week was the offensive coordinator in Atlanta, said Kaepernick is “somebody I’m going to be watching a lot of tape on” in the coming weeks.
“I see a lot better than I hear,” Shanahan said of evaluating players. “Before we can look at anything, free agency, draft, anything, you have to know what the players on your team are. And that doesn’t happen from just turning on a game. That happens from watching a lot of tape.”
Lynch said the evaluation of Kaepernick will encompass more than just his ability on the field. The two already know each other somewhat. In his role as a Fox analyst, Lynch met with Kaepernick before calling 49ers games and said they got along well. Lynch also said Kaepernick reached out to him via text after the 49ers hired him.
“It will be a football decision, but I think part of that, there’s different layers to that,” said Lynch. “I think everything will be included in the decision. I’m not talking specifically about his stance. But I think when you have a quarterback, the great ones are the leaders of men. So I think all those things will be taken into account.
“I’m looking forward to sitting down with him, I really am. Colin and I, when I did some 49er games, I’d say we hit it off. He and I, I think there was a trust there. I think that trust extends, and I was thrilled when he reached out and I’m looking forward to talking with him.”
Receiver Torrey Smith, who was on hand for Thursday’s press conference introducing Lynch and Shanahan, said he believes Kaepernick will have options this offseason.
“I think Kap can play,” Smith said. “I think you want to have a starting quarterback and Kap’s obviously a starting NFL quarterback. Whether he’s here or not, that’s not my decision. But if he’s not, I’m sure he’ll be fine. You can’t tell me there are 31 other quarterbacks that are better than him. I’m sure he’ll be fine either way.”