The tall, skinny quarterback with the oddball delivery who didn’t get any attention from the big colleges coming out of Turlock signed one of the NFL’s biggest deals Wednesday.
Colin Kaepernick’s six-year extension is worth as much as $126 million and includes $61 million in guaranteed money. The $21 million average annual salary puts him behind only Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, against whom Kaepernick is 3-0.
The 49ers quarterback’s Wisconsin-based agents met all day Tuesday and through noon Wednesday with the 49ers after a lull in negotiations this spring.
The size of the deal means the 49ers’ Super Bowl aspirations through the 2020 season rest squarely on Kaepernick’s shoulders. It’s also further proof that the team believes nothing will come of the investigation in Miami involving Kaepernick and two other players.
That case, which began April 3, is in limbo while police wait for test results expected back sometime this month.
“I think everyone’s very happy that this organization, my coach to (CEO) Jed (York) to everyone throughout the building had this kind of confidence to do it at this point and time,” Kaepernick said of the deal. “I think we all greatly appreciate that.”
Kaepernick, 26, vowed that his newfound riches wouldn’t change him, and his appearance at his post-signing news conference – black 49ers T-shirt, gray workout shorts – suggested he would remain a gym rat at heart, albeit a wealthy one.
The only accessory of note was a pair of blue socks with dollar bills printed on them. Kaepernick insisted it was a sartorial coincidence.
“Luck of the draw,” he said.
Kaepernick spread thank-yous liberally, including to the man whose starting job he took over midway through the 2012 season. Alex Smith was having his best season when a concussion gave Kaepernick his first NFL start, against the Chicago Bears in Week 11. He completed 16 of 23 passes, threw for 243 yards and two touchdowns and never relinquished his role.
“The time I spent with him, I don’t think I would have been able to be at this point so quickly if he hasn’t been such a great mentor with me and help me along with things,” Kaepernick said of Smith, who is in the midst of contract negotiations with the Kansas City Chiefs.
In February, Kaepernick said he hoped to sign a contract that would allow the team to extend other talented players such as wide receiver Michael Crabtree and guard Mike Iupati, both of whom are entering the final year of their initial deals. He said his contract was structured to do just that.
When it comes to the salary cap, Kaepernick’s relatively small signing bonus – $12 million – is prorated over the life of the deal, meaning the new deal will make only minimal impact on the cap this year. That could allow the team to extend another player.
Kaepernick’s car, as usual, was in the prime spot in the cramped 49ers parking lot Wednesday, a signal that he was the first one in for a workout. He said the new contract wouldn’t dull the desire that propels him to be first and that his goals won’t change, either.
“Try to win as many Super Bowls as I can,” he said. “I think that’s your goal as a player: To try to win the Super Bowl every year you’re playing. Granted, that’s not necessarily realistic to win it every single year, but that’s what your goal is.”