General manager Trent Baalke said Wednesday he “absolutely” expects Colin Kaepernick to be on the 49ers’ roster April 1, despite the $11.9 million that would be owed him that day and despite the sense that the quarterback is unhappy with the organization.
“Well, once again, I don’t know where that’s coming from,” Baalke said when it was suggested that Kaepernick has soured on the 49ers. “The last time we talked to Colin, Colin was excited.”
Kaepernick has had three surgeries since November – on his left shoulder, left knee and right thumb. None has been performed by team doctors, and he is rehabilitating in Colorado, not at the 49ers’ facility in Santa Clara. Team officials are scheduled to meet with Kaepernick’s representatives this week, although Baalke said he will not be part of that group. Front-office officials Tom Gamble, Paraag Marathe and Brian Hampton will handle meetings with players’ agents.
New coach Chip Kelly spoke briefly with Kaepernick in January, and according to a league source, Kelly and other coaches have reached out to Kaepernick by phone since.
The 49ers traded quarterback Alex Smith during the scouting combine three years ago, and it was suggested the 49ers might be trying to create trade leverage by stating their desire to keep Kaepernick. Baalke dismissed that notion.
“Guys, you keep going back to the same old (stuff),” he said. “The bottom line is that all these guys ... are under contract. The expectation is to move forward with them. I can’t predict tomorrow with any of them. The expectation is that (Kaepernick’s) on our roster. I’ve said that multiple times. And I know that the coaching (staff) is looking forward to getting to work with these guys.”
Smith’s trade to the Chiefs in 2013 was preceded by a dinner Smith and his wife attended with Baalke, during which the general manager went over various trade options. That hasn’t happened in Kaepernick’s case, and there’s been no sign the team has tested the trade waters.
Kelly spoke highly of Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert in January, saying two quality quarterbacks are needed to win in the NFL.
Gabbert replaced Kaepernick as the starter after eight games last season. Gabbert finished with better statistics and won three starts compared to two for Kaepernick.
Baalke suggested Kaepernick, who took the team to the Super Bowl in 2012, would have to compete for the starting job.
“Obviously, we’ve got two quarterbacks that have proven they can go into an NFL game and play at a high level,” Baalke said. “There’s no working knowledge of either of these quarterbacks with respect to the new staff. So all of these guys are going to be competing for their positions, not just the quarterback position.”
If Kaepernick doesn’t win the starting job, the 49ers’ highest-paid player would be on the bench.
“Wouldn’t be the first time in history,” Baalke said. “But once again, you’re creating a lot of speculation over nothing. Let’s get these guys in here and let’s go to work.”