GM John Lynch says 49ers would have cut Colin Kaepernick if he hadn’t opted out
Colin Kaepernick’s time with the San Francisco 49ers was going to be up this offseason one way or another.
The once-dynamic dual-threat quarterback is still on the market after opting to enter free agency this offseason, but had Kaepernick not made that choice, the 49ers would have taken matters into their own hands. San Francisco general manager John Lynch said Wednesday on PFT Live that the team would have cut Kaepernick if he hadn’t opted out of his deal.
“Yes,” Lynch said when asked if Kaepernick would have been cut, “and we had that conversation with him. So I don’t want to characterize it as he made a decision to leave here. We both sat down and under that current construct of his deal, it was a big number. [Coach] Kyle [Shanahan] had a vision for what he wanted to do, and one thing I think Kyle was very clear and I think Colin appreciated, is that Kyle has an idea of how he’d play with Colin Kaepernick.
“But he preferred to run the exact offense that he ran in Atlanta last year that was record-breaking in this league. And if you change it for the quarterback, you change it for everybody on that offense. So he had a great discussion that I think gave Colin clarity, so we moved on. Brian Hoyer was one of the guys we pursued. Once we pursued him, we didn’t see Kaep as a backup that would really fit in that scheme and we communicated that to him. So I think we’ve been very up front with it. But I think that is a fair characterization. Yes, he was not going to be here under the construct of his contract. We gave him the option, ‘You can opt out, we can release you, whatever.’ And he chose to opt out, but that was just a formality.”
Kaepernick and the 49ers agreed to rework his deal last season as the former star quarterback traded in $14.5 million in injury guarantees during the 2017 season for the chance to hit the open market early. But despite starting 11 games last season and throwing 16 touchdown passes and only four interceptions, the 29-year-old quarterback has watched teams sign plenty of other players at his position.
The popular belief is that teams are not inclined to sign Kaepernick because of his protests last season, opting to kneel during the national anthem in order to bring light to racial injustices. But his on-field performance hasn't been consistent, and he has yet to regain the form that helped him guide the 49ers to back-to-back NFC title games in 2012 and 2013.
The Seattle Seahawks reportedly were close to signing Kaepernick, but those talks appear to have cooled.