Colin Kaepernick is back in the weight room, but he hasn’t been cleared for practice and isn’t expected to fully participate in the 49ers’ mandatory minicamp sessions that begin Tuesday.
The 49ers quarterback injured his left, non-throwing shoulder Oct. 4 in a 17-3 loss to Green Bay at Levi’s Stadium. Doctors ultimately found an “extensive tear” in the labrum, and he had surgery in late November. The recovery was expected to last four to six months.
Kaepernick later had surgeries on his left knee and right thumb. That, plus the fact that he hadn’t been able to work out extensively since the October injury, meant he lost significant strength.
Kaepernick is focusing on rebuilding his strength. After minicamp ends Thursday, players will have about six weeks on their own before training camp.
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A league source said Kaepernick plans to remain in the Santa Clara area so he can work with the 49ers’ strength and conditioning staff to get his body back to pre-injury form. The thinking seems to be Kaepernick could make only minimal gains by participating in the three-day minicamp and the priority is getting him ready for training camp in late July, when the real competition begins.
Another reason for the 49ers to be cautious is the large injury guarantee in Kaepernick’s contract. If he suffered a career-threatening injury, his 2017 base salary, $14.5 million, and a portion of his 2018 salary would be guaranteed. Kaepernick already is guaranteed to make $12.3 million this season.
Despite his limitations, Kaepernick has had perfect attendance during the offseason, which began in early April. During practices, he typically stands a few yards behind the quarterback taking a repetition and mimics his motion short of throwing the ball.
Kaepernick has resumed some throwing – he was seen doing so in warmups last week – but he hasn’t been cleared to practice. Blaine Gabbert has worked with the first-team offense, free-agent addition Thad Lewis is with the second team, and rookie Jeff Driskel is with the third team.
Kaepernick has not spoken to reporters since the end of the 2015 season. Last month, coach Chip Kelly insisted Kaepernick would not fall behind in the competition with Gabbert if he sat out spring practices.
“There is no fall behind, because there is no behind,” Kelly said May 17. “There’s not a race. The first day we actually get to go against the defense is today. We’re not naming the starting lineup for the (season-opening) Rams game today.”