One of the most polarizing quarterbacks in the NFL is Colin Kaepernick, and now he is also one of the better paid, getting a big extension from the San Francisco 49ers that he might not actually deserve, which will have implications on how they build their team going forward and how the rest of the league has to handle the next round of extensions with other young players at the position.
Kaepernick might the quarterback the franchise has chosen to lead them forward, but their success over the last three years has a lot more to do with Jim Harbaugh, the huge offensive line and the excellent defensive game than this or that quarterback. Kaepernick is special, but he is also prone to huge mistakes with the game on the line, and it’s arguable of how much better he makes this team.
Kaepernick was rewarded with a six-year, $110 million extension, including $61 million in guaranteed money. That is what you get for taking your team to a Super Bowl and a Conference Championship Game, although some might agree that it had more to do with the system he has been put in, and not his own unique skill set. After all, Alex Smith, dumped by the 49ers for Kaepernick midway through the 2012 season, “led” them to a conference championship game as well in 2011. He didn’t implode in that loss, unlike Kaepernick did, as always, against the Seahawks.
But it’s not about being an elite quarterback or not, not anymore. Teams are simply happy finding a quarterback that works out well for them and thrives within their system. Kaepernick might have an off and on field demeanor that creates some extreme responses and he might try to do a better job in containing his love for himself and his arrogance in general, but when team success is automatically attributed to the quarterback, Kaepernick delivers.
Two things that can be used to bash the 49ers in their view of Kaepernick as turning into a superstar quarterback: His record against the Seahawks including the playoffs, which is 1-3 with 3 TDs and 7 picks compared to 20-5, with 35 TDs and 9 INTs vs. all other opponents. His pocket passing accuracy also dropped last season – from 65.7% in 2012 to 60.5% in 2013, but maybe it had to do with the injuries to his receivers.
Kaepernick might have gotten more from this deal – according to previous reports he was looking for about $20 million a year. However, it is reported that Kaepernick wanted a big deal that would make it possible for the 49ers to have enough cap space and renew and extend more contract to key players, specifically his favorite receiving target, Michael Crabtree. For those that say he doesn’t deserve the money, since becoming a starter he is in the top 7 for both passing yards per attempt and yards per rush.
This isn’t just about the Niners, eventually. A copycat league, and other quarterbacks seeing this deal will want the same money – Andrew Luck, Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson. They all have contract extensions coming up this season or the next, and when they see that a second-round draft pick out of Nevada got this kind of money, they’re going to want to be paid the same or more.