The new look San Francisco 49ers aren’t built around Colin Kaepernick, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to stay there forever, especially if things continue to go south for the franchise.
And here’s what the 49ers lost this offseason, according to Pro Football Focus: The 49ers lost one elite player (Willis), three high-quality players (Lee, Chris Borland and Chris Culliver), three good players (Mike Iupati, Anthony Davis and Justin Smith) and four players with average ratings (Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree, Dan Skuta and Perrish Cox). Adding Torrey Smith and Reggie Bush to replace that just doesn’t sound very enticing.
So where does the Kaepernick trade figure into things? If the 49ers are forced to rebuild, not just retool. The Harbaugh era of making three consecutive conference finals is over. After his first three years things fell apart. In his personal relations with players (some of them) and the board, but also physically for the guys: The 49ers had only 16 missed starts during the regular season in 2012. Missed starts jumped to 86 in 2013 and went to 92 last year.
With a contract that’s paying him $19 million per year on average, Kaepernick isn’t expected to simply be part of a losing or mediocre team. The 49ers expect more, but that’s not likely to happen, unless everyone gets blown away this season. If things do look bad for a year or two under the new regime, it won’t be surprising to see the 49ers trying to get some draft picks off of a quarterback in his prime, hoping he hasn’t already given the team the best of him.