San Francisco 49ers

Will new 49ers coach Kelly keep Kaepernick?

Four reasons why Kaepernick could go to Cleveland

Colin Kaepernick's status for 2016 is in limbo and one of his most devoted fans just landed a job as the Cleveland Browns' head coach. Could Hue Jackson lure the 49ers quarterback to Cleveland? Matt Barrows discusses the issue.
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Colin Kaepernick's status for 2016 is in limbo and one of his most devoted fans just landed a job as the Cleveland Browns' head coach. Could Hue Jackson lure the 49ers quarterback to Cleveland? Matt Barrows discusses the issue.

Colin, come back?

The 49ers appeared to alienate their former starting quarterback, who is rehabilitating in Colorado, during the 2015 season. But new coach Chip Kelly could want Kaepernick back for 2016.

Before the 2015 season, when Kelly was coaching the Eagles, he inquired about landing Kaepernick in a trade, according to a league source. The deal wasn’t made and he instead acquired Sam Bradford from the Rams.

Bradford, however, doesn’t have the athleticism that Kelly’s most successful quarterbacks have had, and he finished 26th in passer rating – 19 touchdowns against 14 interceptions – while the Eagles’ offense ranked 12th.

Kaepernick teems with athleticism, which is why some league observers thinkl he and Kelly will be a perfect match with the 49ers.

“If somebody is going to resurrect Colin Kaepernick, it’s going to be Chip Kelly,” former 49ers quarterback Steve Young said on ESPN’s “NFL Live” Thursday. “But the problem is, he (Kelly) might not go as deep datawise because he turns plays over so quickly. But he asks you to have reflexive recall. To have reflexive recall, to be able to do it really fast, you have to embed it into your brain, you have to do a lot of studying despite the fact that you’re turning plays over really fast.”

Kaepernick was discussed during Kelly’s meetings with the 49ers, and Kelly told team officials he liked both Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert, who has some of Kaepernick’s physical gifts and who took over as the starter after eight games last year.

Both quarterbacks are under contract for 2016, but salaries are far different. Gabbert will be paid a little more than $2 million; Kaepernick is owed approximately $14 million if he’s still on the roster on April 1.

Kaepernick’s salary has led to speculation the 49ers could cut or trade him. And there’s a sense Kaepernick is wary of the team’s front office after a series of leaks to national reporters foreshadowed his benching.

He also had had three surgeries – to his left shoulder, left knee and right thumb – in the last two months. Those procedures were performed in Colorado, not team-affiliated Stanford Hospital, which also signals mistrust in the organization. His shoulder and thumb aren’t expected to be at full strength until early April, just as the 49ers’ decision is due.

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

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