Final hurdle to starting? Report says 49ers and Kaepernick close to new deal

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Frank Schwab
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It’s strange that the San Francisco 49ers haven’t given Colin Kaepernick a look yet in the regular season, because Blaine Gabbert hasn’t been playing well (though Phil Simms might disagree there).

There have apparently been contractual concerns regarding an injury, but the team and player are reportedly working through that issue. And perhaps if a new deal can get done, the 49ers will make an overdue move and give Kaepernick his shot at quarterback.

Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported that Kaepernick and the 49ers are close to a restructured deal that would “alleviate concerns regarding injury guarantees.” Rapoport said the deal would eliminate 2017 guarantees and cut the final three years off the deal, meaning it would run through 2018 (and Rapoport said it could void after this season). The timing can’t be coincidental. The 49ers offense struggled in an ugly 33-21 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Fans chanted for Kaepernick, though Gabbert never came out.

If the new deal gets done, perhaps the next step is the 49ers naming Kaepernick the starter, even though CSN Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco reported that some players prefer Christian Ponder be next up at quarterback.

At some point, the 49ers have to figure out if Kaepernick can regain his status as the team’s full-time quarterback. We’ve all seen him play at a high level, though his glory days are becoming a distant memory. Still, he’s just 28 years old and has played at an elite level in the NFL. Ponder has never been that type of quarterback. Gabbert hasn’t either. The 49ers have to find out if Kaepernick can be their guy moving forward.

It’s understandable that the 49ers don’t want to be on the hook for Kaepernick’s contract if he gets hurt during that audition. If Kaepernick suffers a career-ending injury this season, the 49ers owe him $19.7 million in guaranteed salaries according to Yahoo’s Charles Robinson. The 49ers have talked about having concerns about Kaepernick’s health, and specifically his weight loss this offseason as he recovered from surgeries. According to Maiocco, 49ers coach Chip Kelly said Kaepernick is about 215 pounds, and the team has a target weight of 225 for him.

That concern could be alleviated with a reworked contract. Then we can move onto the business of seeing if Kaepernick can resurrect his career.

Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers are working on a restructured deal (AP)
Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers are working on a restructured deal (AP)

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!