The San Francisco 49ers quarterback came off a decent 2013 season as he finished with a 12-4 regular season record. However, Jim Harbaugh continued to build up Colin Kaepernick at the annual owner's meetings in Florida.
He talk about how Kaepernick has taken a significant step forward in his first full season. The 49ers quarterback enters his contract year in 2014, thus an extension will be needed as soon as possible.
"People want to put labels on [Colin Kaepernick], but [as] one of the better quarterbacks, one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL, somewhere, you could say that," Harbaugh said. "[He is] very gifted athletically. Very smart. One of the brightest quarterbacks I’ve ever been around. And he’s got a work ethic that’s uncommon. So you know he’s just going to progress and just get better and better. So that’s where we are. And he’s a very young, young gifted player, talented smart [and] really [has] it all."
General Manager Trent Baalke said yesterday that he wants to get an extension done before training camp, which is the last week of July.
The best solution would be to give a short term extension or two or three years. Colin Kaepernick has shown flashes and all the potential throughout his 29 games (including postseason starts) as the team's quarterback, but he hasn't proven to be everything yet.
Kaepernick was able to fall back on his record and how the team was winning even though the 49ers were ranked dead last in passing attack. A big reason for this was due to Michael Crabtree being out for most of the season and the 49ers quarterback only having two primary weapons to throw to.
In 2014, Kaepernick has to prove that he can make the throws himself, rather than have his wide receivers make plays for him. The 2013 season had more times where Anquan Boldin or Crabtree helping the quarterback rather than vice versa.
Another option would be to let the 2014 season play out and if he has an excellent year, the 49ers would have their backs against the wall similar to how the Baltimore Ravens did with Joe Flacco. The Ravens quarterback earned a six-year, $120 million contract coming off a Super Bowl win an impressive 2012 season. This would be an unlikely scenario with Baalke openly stating he wants to get something done as soon as possible. While the 49ers would need to win a Super Bowl next year for this to happen, it would not be good long term to have a similar situation of the quarterback "gambling on himself" and winning the ultimate prize of a hefty contract.
If the 49ers sign an excessive long-term deal this offseason, it would be dismal against the team's cap hit assuming that Kaepernick takes nearly 10 percent of the team's cap total. A reasonable two to three year extension would give the 49ers quarterback more time to prove himself without breaking the bank.
For most fans and Harbaugh himself, the 49ers want to get this extension done immediately, no matter the cost.
"The sooner we can sign him to a contract that’s long-term, extended, the better for our organization," Harbaugh said. "And to put that into a win-win, where it’s a win for Colin, a win for us, the sooner the better, absolutely. But understanding that there’s a process to it and that [will] play out."