Kap’s new deal no gamble — 49ers QB is betting on himself

This is my Thursday column on Colin Kaepernick’s contract extension.

SANTA CLARA – The six-year, $126 million contract extension the 49ers gave Kaepernick seemed preposterous.

Why make Kaepernick the highest-paid player in football after just 29 starts? That’s not enough data to justify paying anyone that much money. Kaepernick may turn out to be a Hall of Famer, or he may turn out to be a talented player who never improved and never won a Super Bowl and never made an All-Pro team – like Mike Vick, although Vick has been to four Pro Bowls and Kaepernick has been to zero.

The 49ers had Kaepernick under contract for one more season. There was no pressure to gamble and sign him now. They could have waited a year, gathered more data and made a wise investment.

The 49ers blinked first – that’s how I started the column I half-wrote Wednesday afternoon before the details of the contract came out. The 49ers flinched. They gave Kaepernick too much money way too soon for no good reason. What was the hurry? To explain their hastiness, I invoked Trent Baalke’s favorite book – “Blink,” Malcolm Gladwell. The column was a rip-snorter, really clever stuff.

But, then the details came out, and the contract didn’t look preposterous anymore.

It looked brilliant. And I had to blink.

The 49ers did NOT go all-in with Colin Kaepernick. No, sir. They threw some money at him now – not a lot – and protected their future.

According to multiple published reports, the 49ers can terminate Kaepernick’s contract whenever they want for any reason. His extension basically is a series of one-year deals. If the 49ers don’t want him anymore after next season, Kaepernick will earn just $13 million from this extension.

Until Kaepernick makes another Super Bowl appearance or a first-team or second-team All-Pro selection, the 49ers will penalize him $2 million annually. When he meets one of those two requirements, the 49ers will stop penalizing him.

Say the 49ers keep him for the next three seasons. If he makes an All-Pro team or goes to the Super Bowl starting next season, his base salary could cost the 49ers as much as $39 million during that time. Reasonable.

But, if Kaepernick doesn’t make a Super Bowl appearance and doesn’t make an All-Pro team during the next three seasons, his base salary would cost the 49ers just $33 million, or $11 million per season. That’s a bargain. That’s Alex-Smith territory. The 49ers gave Smith a three-year, $24 million contract two years ago.

The 49ers required Kaepernick to buy disability insurance on his deal. If he suffers a career-ending injury scrambling or running the read-option or taking a sack or doing anything, two things will happen: One, the insurance company will pay him off, not the Niners. They will be off the hook. Two, the insurance company will pay the 49ers $20 million. Sweet deal.

Wednesday afternoon at Kaepernick’s press conference, he thanked the 49ers. “I think everyone is very happy that this organization – my coach to Jed (York) to everyone throughout the building – had this kind of confidence to do it at this point in time. I think we all greatly appreciate that.”

“Confidence” is a strange word for Kaepernick to use in this context. The 49ers don’t seem to have unwavering confidence that he will become the elite quarterback they publicly say he’ll be. That’s why they leveraged his contract in case he doesn’t pan out. That’s shrewd.

On the other hand, the Niners didn’t give Kaepernick this extension thinking he won’t pan out. The idea is for him to strike gold. And if he does, he’ll get paid accordingly – he can earn more than $70 million in base salary from 2017 to 2020. He can make even more money through incentives and bonuses. And the deal apparently leaves enough money for the 49ers to re-do Vernon Davis’ contract or extend Michael Crabtree’s contract if the 49ers are so inclined. Win-win.

The 49ers provided the avenues for Kaepernick to earn big money down the road, and the 49ers will pay him based on his performance. What’s not to like?

Here’s the best part – Kaepernick agreed to the extension on Day 1 of the negotiation. He didn’t hold out for a fully guaranteed contract. He got an opportunity to bet on himself and he grabbed it. It’s like he said, “No-brainer, I’m Colin Kaepernick, I believe in myself, hand me the pen already.”

Kaepernick is not some happy quarterback who is set for life before he has achieved anything. He’s hungry. He has to earn every penny, and every year he has to show the 49ers why they should keep him.

That’s the American Way. That’s the way all sports contracts should work. Good for Kaepernick and good for the 49ers.

Grant Cohn writes sports columns and the “Inside the 49ers” blog for The Press Democrat’s website. You can reach him at grantcohn@gmail.com.

This article has 204 Comments

  1. I guess with this commitment of 3yrs. guaranteed, the NIners won’t drafting any top QB’s in the next 3 years. That’s more faith than I have at the present. I hope they can increase his stats.

    1. He can increase his own stats and everybody else’s by improving his completion% and 3rd down conversion%.

    2. I love what Kaep did,

      He’s putting his own ability on the Line not to mention it does give the 49ers room to extend Crabtree which I think they should.

      This move by Kaep also tells me about the kind of Player he is too, he has a lot of confidence & he’s going to work very hard along with the rest of the Team because no one Player can win by themselves (let’s not forget that!) to capture a SB or 2.

      1. Colin also gave a lot of cred to Alex for mentoring him. Another feather in his Kap.

    1. Agree, Leo. I vaguely recall that Kap has led some team to two NFC Championships & one SB. Must be a real dud.

      1. Not with the cap continuing to climb. I bet Andrew Luck ends up getting around $25 million per year when it’s time for his big deal.

        1. @htwaits

          Good Point!

          I hope Wilson get’s 25 Mil a year with 70 Mil guaranteed.

  2. Good article Grant. It’s really not something you seen very often. A player rarely agrees to a contract without multiple guarantees much less one that leaves him prone to being dumped at anytime. It shows an understanding by Kap that he can’t take all the cap room and expect to have a great team around him, and it shows he has an unbreakable confidence in himself to earn every dollar of his deal.

    This type of deal will allow the team to be a contender for a long time to come, and maybe a dominant one if Kap reaches the level of play we all hope he can.

    1. Can’t wait to see Wilson’s deal… I wonder if they attempt the same mindset… I doubt it

    2. Well said, Rocket. Also, this sets a precedent on future contract negotiations within the organization. CK just gave the 49ers FO a lot of ammunition going forward. When the face of your franchise and leader of your team does something like this, it sends a clear message to the rest of the organization. Great job by our FO’s and even better job by CK!

    3. Fantastic deal for the 49ers, but I must admit I can’t understand why Kaep agreed to it. He’s put his destiny firmly in the team’s hands. But I love that he’s backing himself to earn that money.

      What will be interesting to see is how this effects deals for other QBs. Would any other QB agree to such a deal, with so little fully guaranteed?

      1. More than confidence…I think it is a sense of responsibility.
        He could have pulled a bone-head move, held the team at ransom for more money, and left the team with no chance of paying prime salaries to his teammates–see Baltimore.

        1. “see Baltimore”

          Why? The average of the first 3 years on Flacco’s deal is less than Kaepernick’s.

      2. Yes, confidence, but also Kap has shown himself to be someone who really and truly is about winning. Money isn’t as much the motivation for him as is the game itself. Besides, he recognizes that no matter what happens, he’s going to be richer than sin for the rest of his life. How much different would his life be with $30M as opposed to $50M? There’s also a loyalty to his teammates and the organization which is refreshing.

        And his ego doesn’t depend on the dollar figure he earns, as it is for so many players. Many players who never had money before the NFL feel disrespected if they are offered say $20M rather than $25M – even though they may have a limited understanding of how much money that really is. Kap’s agreeing to – maybe even insisting on – this kind of contract makes me respect him. A lot.

        1. Kaepernick is in line to make no less than $17.2 million per year starting in 2015. I’m sure he’s a terrific guy, but it’s not like he really gave up anything in terms of pay.

          1. i disagree jack. for the last 2 days, all ive heard, is what a great deal this is for the 49ers! how the cap is going up and up over the next few seasons and how the going rate for a top QB is gonna be $25 mill a year and maybe up to $30 by the time Kap reaches the end of his deal.
            The football guys are saying cinci and carolina etc better try to hurry up and extend their guys to similar deals if possible

            1. jshaw,

              It is a team friendly deal in that the 49ers are taking minimal risk in case Kaepernick flames out, and the low signing bonus gives them the opportunity to create additional cap room by converting his base to bonus.

              It’s also very Kaep friendly in that he is now the 5th highest paid QB in the league, and 2nd highest paid non-Super Bowl winning QB. While he has no protection from being cut for poor performance, he is guaranteed to collect $41 million should he suffer a career ending injury.

              While it was nice for Kaepernick to agree to a flexible contract to assist with the signing of other players, it’s not as though any money will come out of his pocket to make that happen. He will just be paid the money in a different way, bonus vs salary. That isn’t a tremendous situation for the team because that bonus money gets rolled into additional years, so they are basically robbing Peter to pay Paul.

              At the end of the day, this is very much a win-win deal for both sides, I just don’t think Kaepernick made any grand gesture by doing this deal.

    4. Well put Rocket.
      This is a very enlightening article by Grant.
      Baalke seems to have fashioned a creative solution to what could have been a serious problem for the future.
      The agreement seems to reflect favorably on Kapernick. He seems to be putting team first and knows that he has to prove his worth.

  3. Best article yet Grant. I think all the people upset about Kap’s contract are the bandwagon fans. When you have a stud QB, you pay him. I never want to go back to the days of Tim Rattay, Cody Pickett, pre Harbaugh Alex Smith, Troy Smith, etc.

    1. You forgot one of my favorites Ken Dorsey….

      And you of coarse our last great QB Shaun Hill….say what you want the guy had heart…not his fault he had the arm of a 7th grader

      1. my post above (+1000000)was meant to be in reply to Razor. What’s wrong with the blog Grant? Replies are not appearing where they should when you hit reply to another guy’s post. It’s always worked before? Now they end up 10 posts down and make no sense there.

    2. I think all the people upset about Kap’s contract are the bandwagon fans.

      The main reason that the contract bothers me Razor is that I feel like it eliminates another year of development that I think Kaep needs. But Kaep obviously believes that he is past the developmental stage and ready to knock it out of the park, so who am I to argue with that? I’m just hoping that he will quickly get the type of results that will make the fans happy because I know how fickle they can be in regards to the QB position. I’ve read articles and seen TV airings where a good number of 49ers fans didn’t accept Steve Young until he won the Super Bowl in dominating fashion, despite leading a high scoring offense practically each year while being under center. Even now though, there are still fans out there who refuse to acknowledge his accomplishments, as you and I have witnessed from postings on here by some of those fans. And it was even worse when Alex Smith was on the team. Despite having two incompetent coaches when it came to running a offense and building up a quartrback’s confidence, having virtually no help around him, one of the weakest offensive lines in the league, and a constant revolving door at the OC position which resulted in having to learn a new offensive scheme each year, there was a huge portion of the fan base that still demanded immediate results from him because he was a first pick overall and was given a then record setting rookie contract. Even when he finally had some stability and competence at each area, it still wasn’t enough for them.
      Now Kaep has this new contract extension that has some pretty big demands (pay for his own insurance policy, must take 80% percent of snaps and get to Super Bowl , etc.), but I guarantee you that a portion of the fan base will demand even more than that from him in the coming years. Past history tells me that such demands will be coming, no matter how unrealistic or ridiculous they may be. How many fans will be calling for his head if he doesn’t meet them? And let’s not forget the media and all of those outsiders looking in. What kind of demands will that have in regards to this extension?
      A lot of people on here say that I have demands in regards to Kaep that are ridiculous. How so? The only demands that I have that weren’t listed in the contract is that Kaep becomes a better pocket passer, reads defenses better, and improve in going through his progressions. Kaep himself mentioned those in his post extension interview, so I really don’t those demands as being ridiculous. The other demands that I have pretty well fall in line with what the extension requires, and that is to appear in a Super Bowl and/or be named an All-Pro on either the first or second team. In order to accomplish one of those (the All-Pro), he will have to become at least a top 10 QB in as many good stats as possible, so again I don’t exactly see that as a bad demand either (although I would prefer that he wins a Super Bowl or three over the other option).
      I’m not a bandwagon fan Razor, but I’m not a big fan of the extension because I know what could be coming in terms of expected results from certain areas of the fan base, the media, and those idiotic outsiders if Kaep can’t deliver either through his own fault or something that that he can’t control. And it still might not be enough for those fools even if he does deliver.

      1. Mid,
        “How many fans will be calling for his head if he doesn’t meet them? And let’s not forget the media and all of those outsiders looking in. What kind of demands will that have in regards to this extension?
        A lot of people on here say that I have demands in regards to Kaep that are ridiculous. How so?”

        You seem to be overly concerned about how “many fans, media, and outsiders” will treat CK if he flames out.
        Well, after being the brunt of some pretty nasty jokes about the 49ers before the Harbaugh/Balke/Kaep era, I’m will to take my chances with CK at the helm.

        If CK fails its on him and the 49ers have protected themselves against that possible scenario. I chose to believe that CK will continue to ascend as a QB and lead this team to great feats.

        While I understand the underlying spirit of your “demand” and no time to develop under the new contract mindset, please bear in mind that the Org has in essence given Kaep 6 yrs to reach your demands.
        Your demands for immediate results based on a new contract does not meet the 49ers criteria.

  4. It’s a win-win for Kaep and the Niners. If Kaep wins a Super Bowl or develops into an elite passer, the contract will be reworked. He hasn’t done either of those things yet and this contract reflects that.
    If he wins a SB, he will have leverage and he can rightfully command a top tier QB contract. Until then, the private jet will be put on hold and he’ll just have to settle for being financially secure for the rest of his life.

  5. If reports are true and Kaep left (a lot of) money on the table for the sake of the team, and this appears to be the case, then I am doing a personal standing ovation for this young man. For a kid who arguably comes from the humblest circumstances, I think it’s a brave and wise decision. Brave and wise – sounds like a leader to me.

    1. A great decision which speaks to his mindset: he’s a worker, he will get it done, and he knows this is a team game. Leaving $ on the books for his teammates means he’ll have a better team around him –> and that’s where the real money is made: winning super bowls and leaving a legacy. Dan Marino was a great great QB, but Joe Montana has the rings and the greater legacy. Eli Manning is an above-average QB who gets paid and thrown in “elite” discussions because he has rings. Even Flacco makes $18 mil/yr because he got a ring while his peers are lucky to get a third of that.

      I look forward to the 49ers becoming the team of the decade. It starts with the title next year.

    2. Kaepernick didn’t leave money on the table. It’s all in front of him to grab, and the only way he will earn every $ of it is by getting back to the Super Bowl this season.

      1. Hammer,
        I may have missed it; but does the contract verbiage say that he must reach the Superbowl this year?

        1. To get the full $126M he needs a to be 1st/2nd team All Pro or reach the Super Bowl this season. It’s unlikely he’ll be an All Pro based on the type of offense the 49ers run.

          1. Doesn’t sound like that to me. The all pro and Super Bowl level is what stops the de-escalation clause from kicking in. It doesn’t affect the first few years. In the first three years his is just the 12th highest Qb contract. About 14+ plus per year.

          2. Hammer,
            Thank you sir.
            I somehow overlooked the language that he had to meet these goals this season in order to receive full payment.

            I owe Mid an apology since I was thinking that he could meet these goals anytime during the course of his contract.

            1. AES, if he doesn’t play 80% of snaps and get to the SB or be selected an all-pro in 2014 he loses $2M off his 2015 salary. If he misses those goals again in 2015 he loses $2M off his salary in 2016, and so on. However, once he reaches that goal once, he stops the de-escalators for the remainder of the contract. So, for instance, if he misses in 2014 but meets the goals in 2015, he’d lose $2M off his salary in 2015 but keep the fill salaries for every other year regardless of whether he gets back to the SB or is selected an all pro again.

              1. Thanks Scooter.
                So monies are neither retroactive in year 2015 (if CK meets any stated goals) for monies loss in 2014 if goals are not met?

                Hmm, I wonder how this would shake out if Kaep wins a couple of SB’s beginning with this season.

                In any case, I believe I can see through the maze now.

                Thanks guys

  6. The team-friendly details of the deal, as well as Colin’s comments, suggest to me that the team and the agents approached the negotiations with a co-operative mindset, intending to get the deal done. The nature of negotiations pits team against player with one side ‘losing’. These folks tried to do better than the usual antagonistic approach, because CK and his agents didn’t want him to be a rich guy surrounded by scrubs; what’s the point of that?
    So, short take is that Grant got this one right; Colin IS betting on himself.

    1. Brotha, you are being awful kind to agents. I am going to go way out on a limb and suggest CK wanted a good team around him and agents ultimately stepped into lock step with him. At least that is my extrapolated take away from his post contract commentary and what little I know about agents.

  7. RE-SIGN CRAB-TREE!!!!!!
    :D :D :D :D
    (It’s like a chant)

  8. Grant! Best article I have read from you yet! I 100% agree. All sports contracts should be like that. Big money for big performance. If a disappointment, team is not crippled.

  9. This is interesting times. Alex Smith wants a big contract too. Does he deserve it ? Will he get it? I kind of doubt it. Wilson contract will be north of Kaep, because he won a Super Bowl and is a better pocket passer at the moment. The Niners have armed Kaep now with big time talent in the receiver position. I am disappointed in VD, and his situation. Let him hold out if he wants and he can sell Jamba Juice, that is fine with me. I would not pay Crabtree big money, since he is injury prone, and they can weigh out the year before offering him a new deal. He is more of a # 2 receiver and so is Boldin. I am excited this year with Johnson and Lloyd, we have some very good weapons.

  10. CFC and Brotha Tuna are back, which has induced me to sing this song:


    A gang of good fellows are we, (are we,)
    Are we, (are we,) are we, (are we,)
    With never a worry you see, (you see,)
    You see, (you see,) you see, (you see,)
    We laugh and joke, we sing and smoke,
    And live life merrily;
    No matter the weather
    When we get together
    We have a jubilee.

    1. @Space
      Let the good times roll! They’re sure enough some good folks here. I had to take a break. I wasn’t digging Grant’s take on things but I didn’t want to be a whiner so I just bailed and will check in sometimes and only post when I can avoid being Debbie Downer.
      “When you frown
      You just bring Others down”
      (Shouldn’t be quotes cuz I’m just guessing at the actual lyrics there. Apologies as appropriate to Mr. McFarrin)

      1. I did the same thing Brotha and for the same reason. Glad you’re back off the PUP list….

  11. Very good analysis Grant. I didn’t know how the contract worked. Seems like a win-win for everyone. Curious if the NFLPA likes this contract.

    1. Master P agented Ricky Williams’ incentive-laden contract a decade ago… it was the last deal I heard Master P ever doing…

      Personally, I love the deal – team and player interests are aligned, the QB is rewarded for winning and performance, and whatever happens will lead to a ‘fair’ result. Some agents would argue that their job is to get the most money for their client, but clearly Kap and his agent are willing to bet on his performance.

    2. Houston 9er: Good question. I don’t think the NFLP will like this contract. They prefer the usual tension between player-team, where players –after a long and acrimonious hold-out, sign astronomical contracts only to go bust thereafter.

      Under the NFLP contract system, the player is getting paid for past production…not future production. This is what this contract signals: we will pay you handsomely for future production…not past production.

      I think this is a sign that the Niners will not operate under past contract standards; a message also for Crabtree.

  12. Isn’t it amazing that once the dust settles how clear things become. That’s why I always wait for the details to come out. It saves so much back-pedaling later.

    1. The amount of overreaction has been ridiculous. Apparently some haven’t learned that those in the Niner front office dealing with contract negotiation, aren’t about to agree to anything that will leave this team hamstrung in the future.

  13. Wow, that the first time i’ve seen you form an opinion and then admit you were wrong.
    Good article. I liked the one before the draft about QB’s going to a small school. Then came a series of duds with you being bitter they didn’t do what you demanded.

    I’m really impressed by Kaep thinking about his teammates and keeping the team competitive. I also liked how he thanked Alex for his help. Then he takes on the burden of proving his worth.

  14. I guess the first column that isn’t bashing the Niners is not the best place to launch a criticism, but it’s telling that you’ve admitted right there at the top that your process is to begin writing a column and forming an opinion without having all the facts and details.

    This is very much what is wrong with the world of journalism today. In the rush to be “first” almost nobody bothers to acquaint themselves with the facts. Glad that you fought that urge and held off until you saw all the facts–and your best column to date is the result.

  15. @RapSheet 31m
    Examine Kaepernick’s leverage going into talks: 1 year left, so wasn’t leaving. And how many teams would he start for? 6? Where would he go?

    1. @RapSheet · 33m

      Quick glance says: NYJ, TEN, OAK(?), KC, TB, AZ. Anyone else? RT @jacobfagan: @RapSheet I think Kap would’ve been in high demand in FA.

    2. 49ers had little leverage. Who would the 49ers add to their roster to replace him in 2015? Or were they relying on Blaine Gabbert to become the next Alex Smith? A really good football team without a QB is not a really good football team.

    3. Just quit Jack, Kap took much less than the Cutler deal which was alleged by a source that was taken as fact by both Grant and his Dad as the starting point of the negotiations. And by much less its 22/20M over 2 years and 14/12/10M over 3 years. That’s money on the table.

      1. “Kap took much less than the Cutler deal”

        He did?

        Cutler 7 year / $126.70 million annual average salary of $18,100,000

        Kaepernick 7 year / $126 million annual average salary of $18,000,000

        If the 49ers reach the Super Bowl this season and Kaepernick doesn’t get injured he will be in position to collect every bit of the $126M.

        1. @ Jack, Dude give it a rest. You are losing credibility with every letter you type. According to everyone, this is a very fair deal that allows the 9ers flexibility in signing other players and gives the team outs if Kaep goes in the tank. It’s a great deal all the way around.

          1. I never said it wasn’t a fair deal. I said that he didn’t leave any money on the table, and he didn’t as long as he reaches the Super Bowl this season and doesn’t get hurt.

            1. Come back to the real world where you evaluate NFL contracts based on the first three years, Jack. It’s not that hard to figure out, especially when the Niners can release Kap after any year. And if you want to go out 4 years its 12 to 6M under the Cutler deal. Money meet Table.

              1. If you want to play the 3 year average game, he’s getting more per year than the guy he lost to in the Super Bowl.

            2. Thanks for the perspective Jack. Another super bowl visit and CK staying healthy may very well leave the team with not enough cap room for key players and thus lean years down the road.

        2. What part of “the contract is guaranteed year by year, only for injury” don’t you understand? If he’s worth the money, he gets to stay and earn it; and if he’s not, he’s subject to having the remaining years terminated at no additional cost to the team.

          This concept really seems to confuse people, but it’s the same deal (on a multi-year basis) that the Niners had with Aldon Smith’s 5th year option. Neither deal is guaranteed for anything other than injury.

            1. Bringing Wilson into the conversation was totally asinine. What you are doing is a purely argumentative rationalization to support of your previous perspective which has since been undercut by facts.

      2. Kap took the bottom number his market value called for, so in that way you could say he left some money on the table, but that isn’t the reason this is a great contract for the team.

        By taking such a small signing bonus, Kap has allowed the team flexibility in that they can easily convert future base salary to SB to free up cap room while not mortgaging the future due to a low initial SB cap charge.

        Obviously the year to year nature of the deal doesn’t hurt either.

    4. You are delusional if you think Kaep wouldn’t command a monumental contract on the open market. He would be in VERY high demand if he were ever a free agent. Where would he go? He would have had tons of options.

      1. How many teams have the cap space to bring him in on a monumental contract?

        1. The Niners did this deal under $9 million of cap space, and his 1st year hit is nominal. Even a cursory understanding of how the cap works and how teams structure contracts to accommodate it would make it obvious to you that virtually any team in need of a QB could have and would have done this.

            1. Probably not. This was a compromise based on his salary for this year. He would have commanded more on the open market.

    5. Also the francise tag for years after that. Its probably how the $13M signing bonus and the roughly $13M was benchmarked.

      1. Affp,

        You were all over the guaranteed money scenario yesterday. Good job and insight on your part.

  16. This is a very good article Grant. Very good. The deal is not as it first appeared and you illustrated that very well. You really brought a lot of much needed perspective to this extension and what it means for the team and Kaepernick. You definitely nailed it with this one. I enjoyed reading it.

  17. I will just reiterate what I posted on the last article. If we ever took all of Kaep’s statements to heart this contract would not be that big a surprise. He has always stated that he had no intention of hamstringing the teams ability to keep talent. As I brought up before, he truly loves the game of football and would probably play it for nothing if he had to. When he was senior in high school and only received one D1 offer, it appeared his football future looked quite dim. His by contrast seemed to have a bright and potentially lucrative baseball career in front of him. He chose the then long shot football career. It was not a decision made for financial reason. This is why I believed him when he said money isn’t an issue for him. He proved it by the choice he made in high school to not follow the money, despite those around him advising him other wise. He follows his own path.

    I think in a time when everyone seems so concerned with money, it’s difficult to understand or believe when someone actually isn’t. He is like the celebrities son who wants to make it on his own through his own merits. As he said he want to earn his salary. Too bad our society doesn’t seem to promote that vary value anymore. Very un-thug like of Kaep. If this gets out it will ruin his image. LOL

    1. Willtalk, good post, but I don’t know if getting drafted in the 43rd round of the MLB draft is that promising for a career in baseball. He would have likely started in the Rookie League and then would have had to work his way up through low/high Single A, AA and AAA before getting a shot in the Major League where the real money is. That is one tall ladder to climb as a late draft pick.

      1. He was offered scholarships from D1 baseball programs. He was drafted after spending a year away from baseball and dedicating himself to football. So I think promising baseball career is correct. It may not have panned out because like you said it’s a long shot, but if he had put the same work ethic to baseball I would be shocked if he didn’t make it. He hasn’t played baseball since high school and he went out and threw an 87 mph pitch.

        1. Spaceborn- Being drafted in the 43 rd is not reflective his potential ability because he was drafted after he had already said he was committed to football not baseball. He was drafted despite that fact. If he had not done so he would have been drafted much higher. Football for him at that time was a very long shot. Baseball seemed to be the smarter choice at the time. I don’t agree that baseball was that much of a long shot. He was throwing 93 mph and was still an underdeveloped skinny kid. While all sports are not a sure thing his shot was as good as any other high school kid who threw 93 mph. And my point was that in comparison to his base ball prospects his football one was almost non-existent.

  18. “Grant Cohn writes {GREAT} sports columns and the “Inside the 49ers” blog for The Press Democrat’s website.”

    That’s your best ever 49er work. I’m proud of you and Kaepernick. You both have had outstanding parenting!

    Of course, like Kaepernick’s contract, I’ll always be available for future much deserved criticism.


  19. Tell the little minions what the want to hear, they love the writer. Write things they don’t want to hear, chaos.

    1. Or, take your time to gather your facts, and then present a balanced opinion and get praised for doing so, versus fire off another emotional opinion piece that ignores many facts, and get criticized.

    2. Not sure of the usage of the word “minion.” Here are the two most common definitions:

      1. a servile follower or subordinate of a person in power.

      2. a favored or highly regarded person.

      Wouldn’t a minion be a person that usually agrees or takes sides with Grant?

  20. Hey I love my job too but I’m going to want fair market value for my work. This deal says more about Baalke then anyone else. Dude is shrewd. If he was on games of thrones, he would be king already.

    They played their hand like they had leverage. 11-12 million is a fair price for that knucklehead. And not a dollar more!

    1. Fansince77- I disagree. I think you have far lower standards. Baalke wouldn’t last that long in the political arena. As a strategist he is relatively simplistic and too easy to figure out. You need to consider who he is competing against. Business and football people lol. You have no idea the levels of machinations that exist and function in this world.It’s always what you don’t see that will defeat you.

    1. Now that the details came out, the question seems to be…

      1) Was Colin (via XAM Sports) snookered?

      2) Did Colin instruct his XAM Sports to strike a team/cap friendly friendly deal, and the agent did as told?

      I’m leaning toward #2. Colin’s a smart guy. Its inconceivable Colin and XAM Sports didn’t understand the contract.

      Colin’s taking low signing bonus made sense if he truely did want to keep cap room to sign teammates.

      The part that makes less sense (from Colin’s standpoint) is the 49ers ability to part with him between Free Agency and April 1 of a given year. This includes trades.

      Say its 2018. By 2018 salary cap standards, $18-20M is long snapper pay. Some team dangles draft picks in front of Baalke like a bone in front of a yellow lab. Loyal 49er Colin could find himself playing somewhere very cold, with victories and Beats endorsements few and far between.

      1. I agree! If I were Colin I would have included a trade clause to protect himself in that respect within the contract. The problem that intelligent but ethical people have is that they tend to project their own ethics on to others. It takes years and quite a few hard knocks to figure that out.

  21. It’s a bad deal for Kap..A series of one year deals?..That’s not a ringing endorsement of your franchise qb..A position …an important position..that’s needed stabilization since Young. If I can cut u after a year..That’s not alot of faith..I don’t blame NFL players for trying to get their money..front office will cut u in a heartbeat.

  22. Good write-up Grant. Here’s hoping Kaep performs beyond the level of his contract and brings us a couple of Super Bowl titles along the way.

  23. While I love this deal from the point of view that it gives the team plenty of leeway to go a different direction if it doesn’t work out with Kaep, I’m not sure I agree with the theory it provides the team with a lot of scope to sign other guys. They already have a lot of money tied up, and Kaep’s cap figure is going to get pretty big as of next year. Sure, it may be a bit less than it could have been, but still a big chunk against the cap.

    I’ve no issue with that – that is what a QB costs – but I don’t understand how this contract helps them re-sign Crabtree, for instance. Not unless they redo quite a few other deals, and/ or let people go.

    1. I think that it allows for an extension to Glenn Dorsey and possibly Alex Boone in the next year or two but not much else Scooter.

      1. Even to re-sign/ extend those guys some work needs to be done. As Jack has pointed out previously, as of right now the 49ers already have around $144M tied up against the cap next season.

        To re-sign any of their free agents they are going to have to restructure deals and/ or let guys go. That is the reality of tying up a QB to a long term deal. Again, I have no issue with that, but I think some people are getting some unrealistic ideas as to how this deal is going to help the team keep all its talent. It doesn’t. Priorities are going to have to be identified, and tough decisions made.

        Jack has also outlined that Justin Smith and Ray McDonald both have large cap number next year and are likely candidates to make room. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the last year we see Cowboy in a 49er uniform. Patrick Willis is another that is likely to have his contract reworked.

        1. Scooter,

          I think a key piece to getting this deal done was the 49ers showing Kaepernick that they were going to win right now because that’s the only way he can max out.

          To do this they bring in Lloyd on a one year deal. Trade for Johnson who is basically on a one year deal, he has 0 dead money if cut next season.

          Can easily see a scenario where they get to the SB this season, then release Johnson, and use that money along with some conversion from Kaepernick to bring back Crabtree.

          If Borland comes in and plays well this season I don’t think they would go to an aging Willis for an extension/restructure. Same with J Smith and McDonald.

          1. Yes, I agree on all points. On Willis, I agree if Borland (or any of the other guys) show they can fill the starting role this year then he’s more likely to be let go than restructured. But only if Borland (or one of the other guys) plays well.

            1. I don’t see that happening unless one of those guys show that that they have the versatility to play both ILB position like Willis and Bowman.

          2. You misunderstand how the de-escalator works. It isn’t about winning right now. All Kaep has to do is satisfy the terms in any year and it will stop the de-escalator in all successive years. The de-escalator doesn’t kick in for some time yet so it doesn’t effect this or next year.

            1. “You misunderstand how the de-escalator works. It isn’t about winning right now.”

              Actually it is you who misunderstands the wording in the contract. As reported by Matt Maiocco, the official documents actually show it as an escalator.

              To activate the escalator Kaepernick needs to participate in 80% of the 49ers offensive snaps and either get the team to the Super Bowl or be named 1st or 2nd Team All Pro. This actually makes it a perfomance based bonus so if he hits the clauses of the escalator in 2014, this season, he will get the full $12M starting in 2015, next season. (2015-2020 = 6 years, 6×2=12. Simple math)

              Don’t worry, you are not the only one having trouble understanding this concept. I went around and around with a few writers from a niner fanboy site yesterday on twitter, one of whom is a lawyer, and they eventually all came to the the realization that they had misread the information just like you.

              1. Jack:

                Willtalk demonstrating his misunderstanding of the contract as he asserts that you don’t understand it.

        2. I’d also keep an eye on Ahmad Brooks. He also seems to be a potential candidate for a reworked contract or being cut.
          I agree that tough roster decisions will have to be made because of this extension.

    2. I had similar concerns, but by having Kaepernick convert salary to bonus it opens up cap room in any given year.

      1. They can do that with any player. I’m not sure why people are making any kind of deal about that, they just did it with Bowman this year already. All it does is push cap hits to later years and gives the team less leeway to move on from Kaep if things don’t work out as hoped.

    3. This year Kap’s cap in under three million. Next year the increase in total cap funds will probably cover all of the increase in Kap’s cap number.

      If the 49ers don’t think Colin is worth that amount they can trade him before April 1 and start over.

      I’m amazed at how many people think that they can go as deep into these issues as those who do it for a living, and to all intents are very good at what they do. Live with the fact that getting this deal done in one face to face day means that all parties were on board with the general concept long before they met.

  24. Kap is betting on himself and I admire him for that
    Except that Football is a team sport…………
    He should have negotiated a say in his supporting cast! If he doesn’t have the weapons, he wont be successfull.
    He should have gotten a clause about who coaches him, if Har-har is gone, Kap might follow.
    It was a clever deal by the 49ers, but will it work for Kap?

    1. A meteor might strick your block tonight. How much time should you spend planing for that event?

  25. I hope VD is reading these articles on Kap’s contract. Makes his money grab look tacky. Of course he has to think of his shareholders – the great excuse for every wrongdoing.

    1. I mentioned previously I don’t believe Davis really wants a pay rise as such – he’s already well paid – but is simply after an extension. I figure this is a deal that happens, as it makes sense for both parties.

  26. And this is why the 49ers are the smartest and best organisation on earth. I think I want a Baalke jersey

    1. Lol lol you’re right. Now if they can do the same with boone, Staley Aldon, crabtree and the rest, it would be great.

  27. So kap signed a “TEAM FRIENDLY” contract with incentives that pays him if he performs and stays healthy enough to get 80% of the snaps. That tells me he might be more focused on staying in the pocket and reading the defense instead of risking injury running around. This is what we really want anyways. So it’s a win win situation. He also left enough flexibility to sign other players not to mention the cap growing and players like Gore and Justin smith coming off the books next year. We might be able to keep and resign our own players in the near future like iupati, crabtree, boone, Staley, Alton etc….. pretty exciting if you ask me.

  28. Grant you may need to sleep with one eye open. An one of your newly acquired minions I recommended that your dad read your column to get up to date on the Kaepernick contract and it didn’t make the cut. ;-}

  29. I wonder if that alleged “creepy foursome” in Miami had anything to do with Kap accepting this team-friendly deal?
    Niner players should be more confident in meeting beautiful, classy women. 1 on 1 is best……..Stay clear of gold digging nappy-ho’s.

  30. Pretty pretty shrewd. Think they’ll get Wilson to sign something like this? After all aren’t most jobs based on performance and incentives?

    1. Mary – If Wilson/Sea repeat this season and win SB, he’ll be highest paid QB ever. Niners must win West so Wilson doesn’t get help from 12th man in playoffs. May as well call the NFL zebras the 13th man in Seattle. Hope you weren’t offended by my last post Mary…..Just being silly.

    2. doubt it.

      it’s easier to point to Russell Wilson being the turning point for the Seahawks, b/c Carroll and his staff were there, but they weren’t even a playoff team before Wilson (they went 7-9 both seasons before Wilson).

      in the 49ers case, the turning point wasn’t Kaep so much as it was Harbaugh and his staff. They were just as good with Alex Smith and Alex Smith is making $8 million per year. They’ve been 11th in points scored all 3 years. In 1.5 yrs, Smith had a 31 to 10 TD to Int ratio while Kaep’s is 31 to 11.

      Kaep = Smith. They just do it differently. Kaep with the long ball (thus the better ypa) and Smith with dink and dunk (thus the better completion %).

      Meanwhile, Wilson has won a Super Bowl and been selected to 2 Pro Bowls. He also has a ROY award (albeit Kaep didn’t play as a rookie).

      Without Russell Wilson, Seattle goes back to being a 7-9 team. As they did with Matt Hasselbeck in Carroll’s first year and Tarvaris Jackson in his 2nd.

      The 49ers? We can’t know for sure until they lose Kaep for an extended time, but they were 19-5 with Alex Smith. With Kaep they are 17-6-1 (placed the Rams game under Kaep even though Alex started since Kaep played almost 3 quarters plus the OT). So an Alex Smith level QB, or in other words, someone worth about $8 million a year talent -wise, is all they might need to replace Kaep.

      1. Comparing the team from 2011 to the one that finished 2012 and 2013 is very simplistic. There were just to many variable factors that differentiated the conditions and rosters between those years. The Giants won the Superbowl then couldn’t make the playoff the next two years. What you are doing is starting with a proposition and then selectively picking only the aspect that seem to support an argument to substantiate it. Your rational is totally a$$backwards. I could attempt to list all the aspects that contributed to differences between the season in question but my fingers would cramp up in the process.

  31. What? Grant this isn’t you is? Where is the hater Grant? I will let it slide that you were going to ridicule this deal without all the fact even though the 49ers have proven over and over they are smart from top to bottom in the front office. What a refreshing article Grant. No negativity, no hating. It’s about time Cohn!!! Good job nice article!!!

    1. After what happened to Michael Crabtree in these same OTA’s last May you can hardly blame Vernon for wanting to avoid them. Obviously, it didn’t affect Crab’s starting role, but missing any playing time, even due to injury, can and has resulted in players losing their starting position in the lineup. I’m not suggesting that might happen to VD, at this point they have no proven talent ready to replace him on the team, but I can understand a star players reluctance to attend “voluntary” OTA’s. I’m not sure these OTA’s provide much or any value at all to players that are pretty much a lock for their spot in the lineup, and there is always a risk of injury.

      1. IMO, Vernon’s campaign for a new deal is about his new business profile. A new contract soon would generate interest and perceived value in his publicly held profile; thereby stimulating sales, income and rising value in same. There don’t seem to me to be compelling personal (he’s already well and fairly paid) or football/business (two years left on deal) reasons to re-do the deal now. His investors don’t want to wait two years to grow their investment.
        This is a problem with every entity going public: Investors apply pressure for immediate results, which effects short, medium and long term decisions. In many cases it leverages short-term advantage over better value long term planning. So, investor interests shape his agent’s advice and that has now influenced his decisions about on field participation.
        Vernon is a quality guy and I believe wants to be a 49er and wants to help the team win. This does get amicably resolved, but messes with the Team’s timetable for contract & cap management over time.

        1. The problem is there is no incentive for the team to give him a new deal. They have him for two more years at reasonable salaries and he’ll be 32 by the time it runs out. They aren’t giving him big money at that stage of his career most likely so what’s in it for the team if they rip up the last two years?

          1. Agreed. That’s what I mean by the investors pressuring for what’s outside the norm. I think Vernon knows he probably won’t get a new deal right away, perhaps just the holdout generates enough buzz for his brand. It has to be a slight irritant to Trent & Paraag who have been planning cap strategy long term.
            Another thought is that with CK’s deal and others forthcoming, Vernon and Boone are just trying to say “Don’t forget about me, leave some money in the vault for my deal too.”

          2. Davis will know that at the end of his current deal he’ll be 32 and unlikely to get another big, longish term contract at that point – it would likely be more 1-2 year deals like Boldin just did. To me this whole saga is about Davis looking to get an extension on his deal while the iron is hot – coming off a pretty good statistical year. Davis, as a guy that relies largely on superior athletic ability more than savvy, is a guy that can probably play for another 3-4 years at a good level, but after that I’m not so sure.

            The benefit to the 49ers of doing an extension now is locking him up for an extra year or two with the ability to push cap hits to years they want them in. If they wait until next year or the end of the deal, then they lose some of that ability, and may need to lock him up for longer than they’d ideally like to. In saying that, any extension for Davis should be a pretty low priority for the 49ers, as the benefit I just outlined is pretty minor at best. You could easily argue they are better off letting him play out his current deal and see if he is still able to play at a top level at 32 (and worth keeping around).

            1. To my untrained eyes, his blocking performance in 2013 was one of the worst I’ve seen from him. I would not extend him, and make him fulfill his contract. I think his entrepreneurial ventures are more forefront in his mind than football…..

              1. I agree his blocking seemed a notch below his usual standard last season. I wonder if the time he spent in the 2013 pre-season activities with the WRs to work on his receiving had any impact?

              2. Probably a little bit of that and the fact they were moving him around more than they had the previous couple seasons.

        2. I like that thought. It was incongruent of Davis to ask for a bigger contract this year, and even uncharacteristic that he would miss OTA’s over it.
          The adage that investors often “cut off their nose to spite their face” applies here.
          The false ideology of short-term profits over long-term success has hampered, hog-tied and crippled American business for way, way too long. Business leaders have a serious need to re-evaluate the mistaken wisdom they have adhered to for the past four decades.

          1. If I’m a share holder in VD, my first question at the board meeting would be, what was the rational in costing your shareholders money by forfeiting $200,000?

            1. “If I’m a share holder in VD, my first question at the board meeting would be, what was the rational in costing your shareholders money by forfeiting $200,000?”

              He isn’t costing his shareholders any money. It’s actually the opposite. His stock has gone from 10.80 per share to 11.80 per share since news of him skipping OTA’s and wanting a new deal came out on May 28.

              1. Related question – when does the shareholder right to 10% of Davis’ earnings go into effect?

              2. Who are the crazy people buying his stock?

                I have two theories about his behavior:
                1. He sacrificed the 200 to make more money on his stock by skipping the OTA and pumping up his “brand” on sports radio and TV. This would suggest he might come back into the fold and let his extension demands fade.
                2. He’s become so in love with himself that he’s doing a TO. TO, you’ll remember, was a likeable, humble guy at one time. Vernon, although never humble, has put the team ahead of himself until now, although I think it was probably struggling with it. You could see the “me, me, me” in the background. Remember that grandstanding after his touchdown in the first NFC championship game?

                Either of these have the potential of blowing up in his face. If #1, watch out for the SEC, VD. That’s a felony with huge fines and possible prison time. If #2, the front office and head coach might come up with a harsh way of dealing with him.

              3. Rocket, I’m not 100% sure on this, but isn’t it only income that is football related? I.e., any income he makes from Jamba Juice or his art gallery wouldn’t count. But any post career broadcasting/ media deals he makes would, as this would be considered due to the profile he has made from football activities.

        3. The whole investment in Smith thing is total BS. Makes no business sense what so ever investing in a product that is on the decline. Now if someone would do the same for a rookie such as Wilson who’s profile and earnings would soon increase it might make a little sense. The only people that would buy those stocks do it purely just to have a piece of Smith. Fans mostly. But as far as the investment or the brand being viable it’s total BS. Perhaps the agents are seeing this as a future source of income in incorporating younger talent in both athletics and entertainment.

          1. Smith? I assume we’re still talking about Vernon.
            As Jack mentioned, the stock value can rise even though the player ages. Investors don’t need to have a blue chip mentality, they can make a short term speculative play if they time it right. You don’t buy pork belly futures to hold them, you time it. Timing plays and margin plays generally are won by those who are familiar with a commodity and it’s market environment. This is all new ground so the risk factor seems high for players. A few people might make some money, but most likely it will be the money changers and fee collectors.
            I wouldn’t touch this from Vernon’s side or as an investor but that’s just me. I’ve invested wisely enough to have a yacht in my retirement; as long as my kayak qualifies as a yacht. Don’t ask me about the Silver market in the ’80s, and btw, screw the Hunt brothers for that!

  32. Here in Phoenix, the local radio show staffed by Ron Woofley and Doug Lies (sp?) were speculating about how things may play out for the Jim Harbaugh based on the 49ers W/L record early in the season (4 games). They mentioned that if the Niners start out 1-3 that the pressure would be eintense on Harbaugh and that there would be unraveling (implied more unraveling) of the relationship with the front office. Maybe this is wishful thinking by Cardinal homers and shills.

    1. Would a one and three start cause intense pressure on Harbaugh? Of course. How many NFL couches would not be under intense pressure if they go one and three to start any season.

      Walsh was under intense pressure when his team was six and five during his last year as coach, and he was lucky to be at six and five that year. It took the Young miracle scramble to beat the Vikings for one of those wins. He also needed other teams to loose at the end of the season for them to get into the playoffs.

      They’re just filling air time.

  33. As is usually the case with this team, we get new shiny toys and they rarely touch the field the first year. I am wondering what the over and under is on Hyde carrying the ball this year will be. I have a feeling that Hunter is going to get a ton of carries probably splitting 50 / 50 with Gore.

    I also have a feeling that Lattimore will not make the cut. The Hyde signing told us that. Once Hyde learns the pass protection assignments they will throw him in there. That might take 3/4 of a season.

    Also wonder if they intend to keep Lloyd or not. I have a feeling Lloyd after crabtree, may be the most complete receiver on the field.

    I’m fired up for the season to begin….. Can start soon enough.

  34. Grant in that you think all professional sports contracts should be structured like CK’s, do you also believe that if a player signs a 3 yr contract on the cheap, then has an all pro season his current contract should automatically be torn up and the player be paid multi millions of dollars? Or do you believe a player should stand by a contract he signed?

    1. Old Coach,

      I know you asked Grant this question but I’d like to chime in too.

      It’s not going to even happen, but I think all contracts should be based on incentives. If you play well you make big money; if you don’t play well, you don’t. Obviously there would be clauses in place for injury but contracts should be based on performance.

      I mean what other industry guarantees money whether you perform or not? Pretty crazy system when you think about it.

      1. Rocket….What other industry? Movies, music and publishing. I agree with you on incentive based contracts but the players[ and rightfully so] will never trust ownership not to fix the results. IE a baseball team is 15 games out in Aug. whats to stop them from benching a player and preventing him from achieving his contractual goals?

        1. True. There would have to be stipulations put in to guard against fraudulent behavior for sure.

      2. “I mean what other industry guarantees money if you don’t play well?”

        How about baseball and basketball? Sports are all part of the entertainment business and share similar pay scales. Comparing entertainment pay scales to your pay scale is a logical fallacy.

        Of the major sports, football has by far the least amount of guarantees and also by far, the greatest amount of risk for the performers.

        1. I meant outside the sports industry. The entertainment business comes close but the movie studios don’t have to sign an actor to a massive contract for multiple years and pay whether he performs or not. Some of the more established actors also have an option to take part of the gross which allows the actor to be paid based on the success or failure of the movie.

          1. Why would “outside” sports and entertainment be relevant? There are a lot of high priced movie stars who under perform and still get paid. What’s relevant is that if Colin under performs, he can be cut before April 1 at very little or no cost to the 49ers.

  35. How rare is it that someone you know puts his money where his mouth is, not to mention a high profile athlete in a sport that’s career killer?……

    1. This stuff happens only in the movies. Although I cannot prove it, I believe the kid knew exactly what he was doing. He’s a bit unreal. And he may turn out to be their best draft pick ever.

      1. As per Jack Harbaugh:

        “He had not expressed to me who they were thinking about drafting at the quarterback position. So I tried. I said ‘Jim, tomorrow in the second round, surely you’re going to draft a quarterback. Which one is it going to be?’ There was dead silence. In fact, I could hear his voice (mimics deep breathing).

        “He said ‘Are you talking to anybody? I said, ‘No, I swear, I’m not talking to anybody.’ (He said) ‘Dad, you’ve got to tell me, you’re not even going to tell Jackie, you’re not going to tell mom who we’re thinking about drafting tomorrow. I said ‘Jim, just tell me who it is. I promise you I won’t say anything to anyone.’ He said ‘We’re drafting Colin Kaepernick.’ He said ‘I not only think he’s the best quarterback in the draft, I think he’s the best football player in the draft. And we’re going with Colin Kaepernick.”

        1. When I tried to get inside information about the industry that our youngest kid is in he laughed at me. Oh, where did I go wrong? Where did I go wrong?

  36. CK I was beginning to wonder if you had a brain. Apparently you do and a heart for the team. Yup your okay my ‘man’ your okay.

      1. Uh, yeah the E prob wasn’t there cuz too many characters; kinda like this blog!
        ; >)
        On a good day I can take a joke.

  37. Considering the “former” agents on talk radio the last 48 hours ripping this deal…as an employer with six sales reps, I’m overwhelmed with Kaep’s decision. Most people want the guaranteed cash regardless of performance. Kaep appears to be that rare bird so confident in himself, he doesn’t need guarantees … let me earn it. Freaking awesome.

    And really…no matter what happens, he never works a real day in his life…so there’s that.

    1. As for football, I call that work, and very dangerous work to boot. Tennis, golf, baseball, and basketball, not so much.

  38. Hey Grant its time for the 2011 draft class 3 year evaluation.

    1. Aldon Smith
    2. Colin Kaepernick
    3. Chris Culliver
    4. Kendal Hunter
    5. Daniel Kilgore
    6. Ronald Johnson
    6. Colin Jones
    7. Bruce Miller
    7. Mike Person
    7. Curtis Holcomb.

  39. A future Hall Of Famer in Aldon Smith, and a franchise quarterback. If that wasn’t enough, a starting fullback, a possible starting corner, center, and a nice change of pace back. Not bad….

  40. Anything to the rumors that Golden tate was shipped off because he slept with Russel Wilson’s wife causing their divorce?

    Sort of like what happened with Steve Nash….

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