With the San Francisco 49ers over-paying their quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, it could hinder their ability to sign some upcoming free agents who are important parts of the team. They agreed to pay him $126 million over 6 years, which averages out to $21 million a year. With this deal the Niners are potentially setting themselves up for salary cap disaster, which will be discussed later.
I have nothing personal against Kaepernick, I think he’s an extremely talented quarterback. He’s big, has a cannon arm and is fast. He seems to have a great work ethic which bodes well for him moving forward. However, he’s not a quarterback worthy of being paid 9 figures, not yet.
At times he’s still a one read quarterback, he’s not incredibly accurate, and has the look of a guy who can win games, but not THE GAME ( i.e the 2013 Super Bowl and 2014 NFC Championship games respectively.) He’s still a young quarterback and could develop into a true clutch quarterback later on in his career, but right now he’s not there yet.
Supporters of Kaepernick will bring up his 21-8 career record as a quarterback and his 4-2 postseason record. However, much of his success was on the back of a top three defense in the NFL the last two years. His offensive line, though inconsistent, was still one of the best in the NFL. Even a depleted receiving corps, without Michael Crabtree, was still better than the New England Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs, Carolina Panthers, and Seattle Seahawks, to name a few. All those teams made the playoffs with quarterbacks who performed just as well or better than Kaepernick. The only team that had a better defense was Seattle, which is why they won the Super Bowl. Also the Niners had a very solid running game which was in the upper echelon of football, which helped Kaepernick succeed as well.
As a Niner fan and analyst I’ve watched every game that Kaepernick has played. Unless I’m missing something significant, I see a guy who at this stage is still developing as a passer, and is someone who gets too much credit for the success of the whole team. However, the Niners are his biggest fans and paid him based on the success of the team and his upside moving forward.
I’m not against giving him a substantial raise because the quarterback market set by Joe Flacco, Matt Ryan, Tony Romo and Jay Cutler dictated that. However, just because those teams paid their quarterbacks too much money didn’t mean the Niners had to be stupid enough to follow suit. It’s obvious the Niners believe in him and that’s why they gave him the big contract. I can’t fault that, if you believe in a guy give him the money and live with the results, both good and bad.
In signing Kaepernick to a 6-year $126 million contract, the Niners’ ability to re-sign key players like Michael Crabtree, Alex Boone, Mike Iupati, and Aldon Smith is severely hampered. That’s a boatload of players who could all claim to be just as important to the Niners success as Kaepernick. Crabtree and Boldin helped elevate Kaepernick’s game to new heights. Without Crabtree for most of the year, Kaepernick often times struggled with Boldin as the only one true receiver to throw to. Once Crabtree returned the offense soared.
The Niners can also say that they aren’t worried about those guys, because the salary cap will increase which will give them more money to spend. They drafted a lot of players in the 2014 draft who they believe will have an impact. However, it’s unclear whether the Niners will be able to replace some of the players who they may lose because of this contract.
The Niners are making a huge investment that they hope will net Super Bowls. That investment will only come true if Kaepernick improves as a passer and the Niners are able to keep great players around him, which seems highly unlikely unless some of their young players develop into stars. More than likely it will come down to Kaepernick having to play like an elite quarterback and carrying the Niners on his back to a Super Bowl championship, because after all he’s being paid like one.