The 49ers will meet with quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s representatives this week in Indianapolis, according to league sources.
It’s unclear what will be discussed. The 49ers will owe Kaepernick his full base salary of $11.9 million if he remains on the roster April 1.
Kaepernick had by far the roughest season of his career in 2015 and was replaced by Blaine Gabbert after eight games. Gabbert was better statistically than Kaepernick and won three starts as opposed to two for Kaepernick.
Gabbert is set to cost far less than Kaepernick – a little more than $2 million – in 2016. But salary cap space is not an issue for the 49ers, who will be more than $50 million below the cap when the new league year begins March 9.
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The 49ers could trade Kaepernick, as they did three years ago with one-time starting quarterback Alex Smith. The deal with the Kansas City Chiefs occurred during the draft combine, which draws coaches, general managers and agents to Indianapolis.
The 49ers consistently have said the April 1 deadline is inconsequential and their main concern is Kaepernick recovering from the three surgeries he has had since November. There hasn’t been a buzz about a trade to this point, an indication the 49ers have not yet surveyed potential trade partners and might suggest new coach hip Kelly prefers to retain Kaepernick.
Kelly spoke carefully about his quarterback situation last month, saying he was happy to have both Kaepernick and Gabbert and noting teams need two starting-caliber quarterbacks.
Meetings between team officials and the agents of prominent players are common and often perfunctory in Indianapolis. The 49ers, for example, are expected to meet with the agents of their biggest free agents, a list that includes wide receiver Anquan Boldin, guard Alex Boone and nose tackle Ian Williams.
The 49ers’ top question for Kaepernick’s representatives likely is whether the quarterback wants to remain with the team. His three surgeries – to his left shoulder, left knee and right thumb – were performed by doctors in Vail, Colo., not by team doctors at Stanford Hospital. Kaepernick is doing his lengthy rehabilitation in Colorado, strongly suggesting he doesn’t trust the team.
Furthermore, the quarterback was bothered that national reports about his dubious locker room leadership preceded his benching last season. Asked during the season whether he thought someone in the 49ers’ organization might be making him a scapegoat for the team’s awful season, Kaepernick said, “I really hope not. For me, I give everything I can to this organization.”
Kaepernick’s future with San Francisco might boil down to whether Kelly can convince him his best opportunity to reboot his career is with the 49ers.
The coach and quarterback met briefly last month at the team facility in Santa Clara, and the two have spoken on the phone since.
Kaepernick’s recovery is on schedule, and he is expected to be at full strength in early April.