A loose, lively and uncharacteristically talkative Colin Kaepernick made the Super Bowl media rounds in New York City on Thursday to discuss topics ranging from his final throw to 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree in the NFC Championship Game loss to Seattle, to Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman’s postgame rant – “absurd,” Kaepernick said – to a possible contract extension this offseason.
That last subject is perhaps the most critical to the 49ers’ future.
Kaepernick, who is scheduled to count a relatively paltry $1.63 million against the salary cap in the upcoming season, can extend his contract this offseason to make his salary on par with the other top quarterbacks in the league.
Last year, the franchise-tag number for quarterbacks was more than $16 million. On the “Murph & Mac” show on KNBR radio, Kaepernick was asked whether he would tell his agents the contract should be drawn up to allow the 49ers to sign other high-end players, something other teams – most notably the Ravens and their quarterback, Joe Flacco – could not do in recent years.
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“It’s a balance. You want to be paid fairly for what you feel like you’re doing in comparison to your peers,” Kaepernick said. “But at the same time, you have to realize, if we want to get Anquan Boldin back, if we want Donte Whitner to come back, we’re going to have to make moves to get them back. And there has to be room for everyone. And that’s something I’m going to let my agent and the organization try to figure out. But hopefully, it’s a position where we can assemble the best team we need.”
Boldin, the 49ers’ top receiver in 2013, and Whitner, the team’s starting strong safety, are two of 10 players who are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents in March. That list also includes kicker Phil Dawson and cornerback Tarell Brown. In addition, a number of young players, such as Crabtree, Aldon Smith and Mike Iupati are, like Kaepernick, eligible for contract extensions this offseason.
Kaepernick told several outlets had he just thrown the final pass against Seattle a foot farther, Crabtree would have caught it and the 49ers, not the Seahawks, would be in the Super Bowl.
“I thought I had put enough on it where it would drop over (Sherman’s) head and give Crab a chance,” Kaepernick told KNBR. “... It’s always easier to look back and say, ‘I should have put a little more on it.’ But at that point, I thought I had thrown a good ball.”
But should he have attempted the throw against Sherman, who led the NFL in interceptions this season and ultimately tipped the pass, allowing it to be picked off?
“I wouldn’t second-guess that at all,” Kaepernick said. “I don’t play this game to play with fear – a player, or another team or anyone. To me, I saw the matchup, I liked it, I’m going to take my chance.”
Kaepernick also had his thoughts on Sherman’s rant following the game, in which the cornerback called Crabtree “mediocre” and “sorry.”
“It was a ridiculous statement. I think everyone who saw it knows it was a ridiculous statement,” Kaepernick said. “Crabtree’s one of the best receivers in the league, in my opinion. He’s done a lot for our team, a lot for this organization. To me, to have someone try to call him out that way is absurd.”
He was more forceful in a separate interview with The New York Post: “ ‘Did that make you feel better about yourself?’ ” Kaepernick said of the “choke” sign Sherman directed at Kaepernick after the interception. “ ‘Then go ahead. Because I’m not worried about you.’ ”
Asked why he runs less in the regular season than the postseason, Kaepernick said: “You have 16 weeks in the regular season where you might not want to take all those hits. There’s a lot of chance for injury, a lot of chance you could lose your starting quarterback.”
Kaepernick also responded to advice coming from former 49ers quarterback Joe Montana, a Pro Football Hall of Famer, who said the young quarterback needs to work on pocket passing: “I think pocket passing is something that’s overlooked – as far as what I do in the pocket. I think people see me running around, they see me throw on the run and running downfield, and (think), that’s just what he does. But when you step up in the pocket and make a normal throw, it gets overlooked because I’m not running around.”
Kaepernick said he would work to improve pocket passing as he does every aspect of his game but that it won’t be specifically addressed.