The saga of Colin Kaepernick continues for the San Francisco 49ers. With the clock ticking on his salary becoming fully guaranteed, the team must make a decision as to whether he stays or goes. In the middle of the season, it appeared Kaepernick was out. When Chip Kelly got hired, he was predicted as the 2016 starter. Now Kaepernick wants out and the 49ers are not certain what to do. With Kaepernick's value rising in the league, the team could try and capitalize on a trade quickly.
According to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com, the 49ers would rather trade Kaepernick than release and they are expected to pursue a deal this offseason before his salary becomes guaranteed. Canfora writes that Kaepernick has not made attempts to connect with Kelly since the head coach got hired. There are reportedly trust issues between the quarterback and the front office and the reports that he wants to play for the New York Jets are not helping his status in the Bay Area. The issue is that San Francisco does not want to just release him.
The 49ers have time to make a decision. Kaepernick's $11.9 million salary becomes guaranteed on April 1, until then they can pursue any and all trade deals in order to get some kind of return on the player they thought was their franchise quarterback. Kaepernick regressed in 2015 with 1,615 yards and six touchdowns over nine games. He then ended his season early with a shoulder issue while also having knee problems. All of that combined as weakened his value in the league. The only thing helping the 49ers is that the quarterback market in both free agency and the NFL Draft is weak and Kaepernick has starting experience.
If Kaepernick is traded this offseason, Blaine Gabbert becomes the favorite to start in 2016 while the 49ers could chase a rookie in the draft. This is Kelly's chance to really get a quarterback he wants that fits his offense. Sam Bradford was not that guy, but neither was Nick Foles. Jared Goff, Paxton Lynch and Carson Wentz are the highest-rated options in the draft. With the No.7 pick, one of those options will be available. However, players like Dak Prescott and Kevin Hogan hold the same skill set and will be around in a later round. The 49ers could hold off and select one of them while letting Gabbert return as the starter.
According to the Sacramento Bee, Robert Griffin III and Johnny Manziel could come into play considering their skill set and Kelly being the head coach. Of the two, Griffin is the only realistic option with Manziel being too much of a headache to take on. Kelly could sign Griffin and let him battle with Gabbert for the starting spot.