Colin Kaepernick is heading back to Vail, Colo., this week not just for a follow-up exam on his left shoulder but for possible surgery on a torn ligament in his right thumb.
That procedure is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday and will take three months to heal. That prognosis is about the same as that for his left shoulder, which was repaired in late November.
The 49ers quarterback originally injured the thumb on his throwing hand Oct. 22 against the Seattle Seahawks. He entered his postgame news conference with his thumb wrapped, and he was listed on the team’s practice report the following week with a hand injury. He did not miss a practice while he was the starter, a 36-game span.
The thumb continued to bother him after he was benched in favor of Blaine Gabbert, and an MRI last week revealed the tear. The 49ers recommended surgery, Kaepernick said, and doctors at Vail’s Steadman Clinic who performed the procedure on his torn labrum will examine the thumb and likely perform the surgery.
Kaepernick also said the doctors in Vail will examine his left knee, which has experienced swelling in recent months.
Kaepernick started the first eight games this season before being benched. He will be owed approximately $14 million on April 1, and because of that salary, the team could trade or cut him before then. Gabbert, by contrast, will count a little more than $2 million against the salary cap.
Neither general manager Trent Baalke nor CEO Jed York said he was concerned about the April 1 deadline.
“I’m not worried about April 1st, to be honest with you,” Baalke said. “I’m more worried about getting him healthy and getting him ready for the offseason program.”
“I love Colin,” York said. “He’s been a great piece of this team for a long time. He has certainly helped us get to the level of success that we’ve had. I’m not going to make any decisions on players. A new head coach is going to come in here. He’s going to evaluate the roster. Right now, I want to make sure that Colin gets back healthy.”
Asked if he wanted to return to the team, Kaepernick noted he’s under contract. “I’m doing everything I can to make sure I’m prepared for next season and everything I can do to help this team win,” he said.
The quarterback said he would do some of his rehabilitation work in Vail and some at the 49ers’ facility.