The 49ers and Kap 20/20

Kap.SeahawksIn case you missed it, the San Francisco 49ers signed quarterback Colin Kaepernick to a seven year, $126M dollar deal, which locks him up through 2020. Reportedly of the $126M, $61M is guaranteed to the franchise quarterback. The parameters of this deal put Kaepernick amongst the highest paid in the NFL and entails the most guaranteed money for an NFL contract.

There is no doubt that Kaepernick deserves this deal. He has been knocking on the door of a Super Bowl for the past three seasons and has led the 49ers to key road playoff wins during this run. The 49ers really value Kaepernick and are well aware of his unique skill sets. Head coach Jim Harbaugh stated that his quarterback looks “bionic” during OTA’s.

However, the contract is not as attractive as it seems from the outside.

The 49ers are a smart organization and are built to compete each season for a title — and that comes with a price. Kaepernick’s contract is a year to year deal. San Francisco can sever ties with him before April 1st of each season, without any repercussion.

How is that even remotely possible? The intricacies of the deal are a bit deceiving. As we study the contract, the details become more apparent.

The actual guaranteed (according to Pro Football Talk) is $13M. The contract entails a $12.3M signing bonus, a $645K base salary and a $100K workout bonus for 2014. On top of that, the 49ers have included a “de-escalator” which would apply unless Kaepernick takes the team to the Super Bowl, while playing 80% of the snaps (or if he is named to the first or second team All-Pro).

That is a lot of pressure for a young quarterback. Not many have the confidence to sign this type of deal. General managers around the NFL know that Kaepernick would demand top dollar if he hit the free agent market. His commitment to the 49ers organization is unprecedented.

The teams’ philosophy is obviously ground and pound first with running back Frank Gore leading the charge. However, Gore is entering the final year of his contract and is 31 years old. It appears the 49ers are gearing more towards the passing game with Kaepernick.

They re-signed wide receiver Anquan Boldin and traded for former Buffalo Bills’ wide out Stevie Johnson this off-season. They also drafted a speedster in rookie receiver Bruce Ellington to take the top off defenses, especially Seattles. Once you sprinkle in Michael Crabtree (WR) and Vernon Davis (TE), you got yourself a relevant passing attack.

Kaepernick showed glimpses of greatness when Crabtree returned late last season from a torn Achilles tendon. He helped alleviate some of the turmoil in San Francisco’s dismal passing attack. If healthy, this receiving core will give defensive coordinators nightmares.

San Francisco’s receivers can potentially be number one options on any other NFL team.

The 49ers are well aware that it takes more than one piece to win the title. They were not going to invest all their money into one football player. That is not how business is done in the Bay Area.

This contract sets the tone for players like Michael Crabtree, Mike Iupati and Alex Boone. Davis is also not happy with his current deal. Regardless of who the 49ers want to retain, we do know that the team will make good financial decisions.

These decisions will dictate on how many Super Bowl titles the team can win with GM Trent Baalke and head coach Jim Harbaugh leading the way. Kaepernick’s contract was the first step. So far, so good.

Shakeel Khan is a writer for VAVEL USA and team writer for the San Francisco 49ers at Pro Football Central (PFC).