Chip Kelly: Colin Kaepernick contract not in play for starting decision

By Jesse Reed

San Francisco 49ers head coach Chip Kelly wants us to believe that Colin Kaepernick’s contract has nothing to do with him staying on the bench this year.

Speaking with reporters, he argued against that “conspiracy theory.”

“If I was ever told to not put him in a game, that conspiracy theory should be done, because he’s been in a game,” Kelly said, via Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News. “I’ve never been told or implied on who to play or not to play. If I was told not to play him, then why did he play? Whether it’s garbage time or not, you’re still susceptible to injury.”

On one hand, the tail end of his statement could be construed as believable. After all, Kaepernick did play the final series in the team’s blowout win against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 1.

But he was never in any danger of being injured in that one.

In fact, he has yet to throw a single pass in 2016.

It’s telling that the 49ers have been reportedly working on a contract restructure that would eliminate some of the injury guarantees that were included in his current deal (more on that here).

It’s also telling that there have been reports that Kaepernick will finally get his chance to lead Kelly’s offense in Week 6 against the Buffalo Bills.

Those two things happening around the same time are not coincidental. They are married — inexorably joined at the hip.

That Kelly might be fibbing to the media isn’t a shock. The 49ers have been lying their booties off for years when it comes to what’s really going on behind closed doors, as do the other 31 teams in the NFL.

The truth is this: The 49ers are not interested in potentially seeing Kaepernick get hurt again like what happened in 2015. If he’s still recovering from any injuries next spring when the next year’s money kicks in, then the team would be on the hook for his full salary, which currently stands at $14.5 million.