Why Kaepernick makes sense as bridge quarterback for 49ers new regime

Quarterback will continue to dominate the discussion for San Francisco, not just this offseason, but for the foreseeable future until they have a confident one that’s throwing for 4,000 yards and 25 touchdowns a season. While many are clamoring to know who that next passer is going to be, they have all but forgotten the main man that is still currently in town and under contract.

The perception is Colin Kaepernick will elect to opt out and the 49ers aren’t going to fight it.

The ball is in his court.

But in all honesty, who knows what conversations are going on behind closed doors. We can guesstimate based on Kyle Shanahan’s preferred quarterback traits in the past, or trying to decipher the intro presser or even tidbits from KNBR, but nobody writing about it externally actually knows what’s going to take place.

It’d be easier to say Kap is positively out if: 1) Shanahan and John Lynch didn’t get such a late start due to the Super Bowl run 2) The quarterback market weren’t so bare, and 3) It didn’t seem like the first two options and only starting-caliber vets, Jimmy Garoppolo and Kirk Cousins, were going to wind up in Cleveland (or New England) and Washington, respectively.

It’s also largely assumed Tony Romo may end up with Denver or Houston, if anywhere. Who knows how Tyrod Taylor’s situation plays out in Buffalo – or if Shanahan even respects his game and views him as a fit. And after that, the crop of free-agent passers consists of players like Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh McCown, Case Keenum, Shaun Hill, Matt McGloin, Mark Sanchez and Brian Hoyer.

So, the free-agent and trade market could easily pass by without the 49ers acquiring a starter.

And in addition to talking about the weak quarterback market, which they could miss out on altogether, we also previously discussed the 49ers’ potential inclination to bypass the position with the No. 2 pick in the draft. For a team in rebuild mode like this, with a new regime facing a soft QB class, they may not force it.

Especially with a head coach that knows how to groom quarterbacks.

But what we haven’t talked about is how all these factors impact the 49ers and Kaepernick. Where does this unpredictable ecosystem of quarterback musical chairs ultimately leave them?

It should be said that if the 49ers do not land Garoppolo or Cousins then new, previously unconsidered doors could swing wide open. The drop-off after those two, who already draw mixed reviews, is significant. After that, we’re realistically talking about Matt Schaub.

That brings us to this . . .

While he won’t be viewed as the future of the organization, keeping Kaepernick may be an option.

The market for Kaepernick is slightly unpredictable because he never truly tested the waters as a free agent. When he was shopping his services to Denver and anyone else interested, he was under contract with the 49ers. But today it wouldn’t be hard to imagine that most teams either want him as a backup or not at all, while maybe 2-4 are desperate enough to throw him into the fire and pray for a rebirth.

Denver, New York (A), maybe Chicago – that’s the field I could see for Kap the free agent.

Shanahan could leverage the flimsy market and his reputation as a budding quarterback wizard to convince Kaepernick to not opt out. The point of this would be to retain a matured passer with Super Bowl experience—not to mention upside—as at least a bridge quarterback for the 2017 season.

If the 49ers draft Patrick Mahomes, Davis Webb or even a top passer like Deshaun Watson, Shanahan may not want to play him Week 1 as a rookie.

Kaepernick being in place allows the rookie to wait in the shadows, marinate and internalize the process of being a professional quarterback from the sideline and in practice. Kaepernick would theoretically start in 2017, and successful or not, he would provide the 49ers flexibility with when and where they acquire the next franchise arm.

Added to the fact that his $14.5 base salary is more than affordable at the moment, it’s a safe, smart plan.

And again, this would be wise because the only other veteran option being linked to the 49ers after Garoppolo and Cousins is a 35-year-old Schaub. At least there is intrigue with Kaepernick, and who knows what Shanahan can do with him, especially after John Lynch and the staff excavate the offense and its lackluster personnel.

There’s a chance Kaepernick at least manages the offense during a transitional period.

Shanahan convincing Kaepernick to stay, genuinely or not, may be the best move for the 49ers. It’s their Plan B if talks quickly fall through with the only two coveted quarterbacks, and it provides draft flexibility, time to develop a promising young passer, salary cap stability, and ultimately a safety net for the Shanahan-Lynch tandem as the two look to start things off on the right foot.

Hero image courtesy CBS Sports

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