Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports



"San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick will be opting out of his contract, according to a source, becoming a free agent," reports Adam Schefter of ESPN.

The news shouldn't be much of a surprise to 49ers fans, who have expected Kaepernick to opt out of his contract since the quarterback reworked his deal in October. Kaepernick will have an opportunity to officially opt out during the period of March 2-7 leading up to free agency, per Cam Inman of Bay Area News Group.

The move will leave the San Francisco 49ers without a quarterback signed for the 2017 season. Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponder, and even Thad Lewis, are all scheduled to become free agents as well.

Kaepernick started the 2016 season as the 49ers' backup quarterback. Recovery from three offseason surgeries and then a shoulder injury during training camp pushed him behind Gabbert in a quarterback competition to determine a starter. However, Kaepernick returned as the starter during Week 6 against the Buffalo Bills, would go on to win just one game, and finish with the second-worst Pro Football Focus grade of his career and rank 27th among all quarterbacks.

Despite the 49ers' poor play this season, Kaepernick's name dominated headlines, but not for his play on the field. The San Francisco quarterback started a protest of the traditional pregame national anthem by refusing to stand. The protest started during the preseason but was not noticed until the third exhibition game – a home matchup with the Green Bay Packers.

The controversy surrounding Kaepernick is expected to hurt his value in free agency with other NFL teams reportedly hesitant about the idea of bringing in the quarterback. That might leave the door open to the 49ers bringing him back for substantially less than the $14.5 million that he was going to be due in 2017.

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