That's why, after the two sides met Tuesday, they came to an agreement on a six-year contract extension, as confirmed by ESPN's Adam Schefter and first reported by Bay Area Sports Guy. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport first reported the key financial terms, and they were big: up to $126 million in total money, with a record $61 million guaranteed.
The 49ers later made the news official. Nice touch with the, ahem, feather in his Kap.
Kaepernick, who had been set to enter the final year of his contract, said on NFL Network that he was relieved that the deal could be completed prior to training camp opening.
"Very excited to have it done at this point and we don't have to worry about talks or anything like that moving forward," he said. "We can get back to football and focus on trying to win a Super Bowl."
Kaepernick said the timing will allow him to put football first and chase the elusive goal: a Super Bowl title.
"I think everyone is very happy this organzation, my coach, [owner] Jed [York], everyone throughout the building had this kind of confidence to do it at this point in time," he said on NFL Network. "I think we all greatly appreciate that."
According to Spotrac, $61 million the most guaranteed money ever given to an NFL player. And yet, it apparently includes the financial flexibility — with the salary cap expected to rise significantly the next few seasons — to re-sign other key 49ers free agents down the road.
Colin Kaepernick specifically requested his deal allow 49ers flexibility to negotiate extensions with players such as WR Michael Crabtree.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) June 4, 2014
Although the Jay Cutler contract — seven years, $126 million total — with the Bears appears to be holding up other quarterback deals around the NFL (Alex Smith in Kansas City, Andy Dalton in Cincinnati), there was no way that Kaepernick's deal was going to come in under that.
The financial parameters of Kaepernick's deal are certain to have an effect on the next wave of signal callers whose contracts are up in the next few seasons — including Carolina's Cam Newton, Seattle's Russell Wilson, Indianapolis' Andrew Luck and, to a lesser degree, Dalton.
Kaepernick, who sat behind Smith in 2011 and part of 2012, credited the Chiefs' quarterback for his development.
"Even Alex Smith, the time I spent with him, I don't think I would have been able to be at this point so quickly if he hadn't been such a great mentor to me and helped me along with things," Kaepernick said on NFL Network.
49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh recently pumped up Kaepernick's tires, saying he believes that the fourth-year quarterback was primed for his best season to date. In two years of starting over his first three seasons, Kaepernick has gone 17-6 in the regular season and 4-2 in the postseason, with his losses coming in the NFC championship game last season and in Super Bowl XLVII.
Kaepernick might have taken a statistical step backward last season and not quite fulfilled some of the unreal expectations that he was cloaked with heading into 2013. But even as Kaepernick at times has been a reticent in front of the media and somewhat of a misunderstood personality, according to his teammates and coaches, he has been a model for the franchise since taking over.
His name was dragged through the mud in a case in Miami earlier in the offseason, but Kaepernick was cleared of any wrongdoing, and he said that he was not worried about that affecting the negotiations.
"That wasn't something I was worried about," he said. "I was letting my agents handle all the talking."
It appears that Harbaugh and GM Trent Baalke agree with us on our assessment (recorded before the news was made public) that Kaepernick is one of the most underrated quarterbacks, although signing for $61 million would appear to remove him from anything under the radar from here on out.
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