San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York finally came out of the woodwork on Saturday night to respond to rumors that Colin Kaepernick’s agents have requested permission for a trade. In short, he said what you’d expect him to say, which is that the 49ers want to keep the quarterback and hope he can be a big part of what they’re doing going forward.
Speaking with Mark Purdy of the San Jose Mercury News, York said:
“All I can tell you,” York told me, “is that the last conversation I had with Kap was a good conversation. I asked how he was feeling. I hope he’s doing well. I care about his health and well-being because I think he can be a big piece of what we’re doing, going forward.”
York also pointed to the fact that both general manager Trent Baalke and head coach Chip Kelly came out vocally to support Kaepernick at the NFL Scouting Combine. Both men said they expect him not only to be on the roster but that he’d also be a big part of the team’s plans.
The CEO says he isn’t reading too much into what the agents are saying and concluded with this: “I know what our feeling is. We want Kap to be healthy. And we’d like to see Kap here.”
Given the fact that Kelly runs an offense that would seem a perfect fit for Kaepernick’s skill set, it’s not surprising that the 49ers would like him to be in the mix to earn a starting job. However, he would have to earn it. Nothing’s going to be given to him, which might be a source of contention for a quarterback who almost won a Super Bowl and went to back-to-back NFC Championship Games as the starter.
Another angle to consider is the 49ers could be simply attempting to ensure Kaepernick’s trade value remains high. If he’s being viewed around the league as a guy who will not — under any circumstances — stay in San Francisco, then his value will tank.
Two teams have already been mentioned as potential trade partners. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network said the Houston Texans and Cleveland Browns would have some interest but also echoed the fact that San Francisco doesn’t want to lose him.
This isn’t going away any time soon, but there is a key date to keep in mind. On April 1, Kaepernick’s $11.9 million base contract will be fully guaranteed for injury if he’s still on San Francisco’s roster.