San Francisco 49ers

Kaepernick hires new agents, poised for free agency

Colin Kaepernick has new representation who likely will shop him in free agency next week.
Colin Kaepernick has new representation who likely will shop him in free agency next week. The Bee

Colin Kaepernick has hired new agents, setting the stage for him to opt out of his 49ers contract on Thursday and test free agency next week.

Kaepernick parted ways with his original agents last month and brought on Jeff Nalley and Sean Kiernan of Select Sports Group this week. Kaepernick, 29, foreshadowed this move midway through last season when he restructured his contract so that he would have the option of becoming a free agent. Nalley handled that deal.

Kaepernick currently is the only 49ers quarterback signed for the upcoming season and is due to earn nearly $15 million in base salary. The 49ers, however, could release him with little ramifications to their salary cap. Kaepernick also can opt out of the deal and enter free agency, which begins on March 9.

A day after Washington placed the exclusive franchise tag on Kirk Cousins -- thus making a trade less likely -- ESPN reported the Patriots are not expected to trade backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who also had been a possibility to the 49ers.

Kaepernick, meanwhile, met with 49ers officials last week and, according to new general manager John Lynch, said the sides left "excited" about the meeting. Kyle Shanahan will hold a media session today in Indianapolis; Lynch will speak Thursday.

Three other quarterbacks who were with the 49ers in 2016 – Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponder and Thaddeus Lewis – are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents next month.

Kaepernick, according to those close to him, is open to returning to the 49ers in 2017. That would only happen with a more modest contract and perhaps after he sees if there are any suitors in free agency. He started 11 games this past season and seemed to get better, and stronger, as he recovered from three operations as the season wore on.

He finished with 16 touchdown passes against four interceptions and a 90.7 passer rating. That was his highest mark since the 2013 season (91.6), which ended with a 49ers loss to Seattle in the NFC championship game.

Kaepernick has been living in New York with his girlfriend, Nessa Diab, who hosts a nationally syndicated radio show, since the season ended. Kaepernick never returned to his pre-surgery weight last season and has been working out daily in New York and has returned to full strength.

Matt Barrows: @mattbarrows, read more about the team at sacbee.com/sf49ers.

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