SAN FRANCISCO—Colin Kaepernick has officially opted out of his contract with the SF 49ers and is now a free agent.
The team announced that the 29 year-old quarterback, who made his debut with the 49ers in 2011 as a second-round draft pick, filed paperwork on Friday to opt out of the final year of his six-year contract, which he signed in 2014 for $114 million. It was reduced to a two-year deal last October.
For the first time in 18 years, Kaepernick led the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2012 (which they lost to the Baltimore Ravens). During the 2016 season, he threw for a total of 2,241 yards, 16 touchdowns, and four interceptions in 11 starts. Since the beginning of his career with San Francisco, he has attained 72 career passing touchdowns.
NFL.com predicted that “Kaepernick’s exit from the Bay was a foregone conclusion following his tumultuous 2016 season.” During a game against the Chicago Bears in December 2016, Kaepernick was benched after he completed only 1-5 attempts and was sacked five times for less than 25 yards. At that point, the 49ers’ record was 1-11, which included 10 consecutive losses following a 28-0 win in the season opener against the Los Angeles Rams.
Kaepernick’s departure leaves the team with no quarterbacks under contract as Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder are also free agents.
Head Coach Kyle Shanahan and General Manager John Lynch acknowledged Kaepernick’s leave at the NFL combine last week, and Shanahan spoke with Team Reporter Joe Fann about the upcoming search process for a new quarterback:
“We’ve got to evaluate all the free agents, the trade possibilities and the draft, and whatever we think is the best scenario is the way we’re going to go. Kap is in that, and he’s involved in that just like anyone else.” Adding that, “You’ve got to do your homework and look into everything.”
“I’m very eager. We’re all very eager,” Shanahan continued, “But we’re going to make the right decision, and we’re not just going to do something because we’re eager.”
Fann also reported, “Shanahan and Lynch will exercise patience throughout the process of finding their franchise quarterback. That could mean waiting a year before investing fully into a player they believe can lead the 49ers for the foreseeable future.”