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This offseason, the 49ers front office talked the talk. Every front office member who spoke to the media stated that extending Colin Kaepernick to an extension prior to training camp was a priority. On Wednesday they walked the walk, signing Kaepernick to a 6 year extension worth up to $126 million and $60 million guaranteed.
The contract initially sent shock waves across the NFL, but as is always the case with NFL contracts of this magnitude the devil is in the details. Now that those details are out one thing is clear, Colin Kaepernick is betting on himself.
The first thing that jumps out when looking at the contract is the fantastic job the 49ers front office did to minimize long term risk to the organization. The contract is basically the same deal they gave Alex Smith back in 2012 on PED's.
Just like in the Smith deal, the 49ers have made very little investment in Kaepernick long term. If things don't go the way the organization hopes they will, they can simply release Kaepernick prior to April 1 of each season with very little damage to the cap.
The only way that Kaepernick can realize the full amount of the agreement is by participating in eighty percent of the 49ers offensive plays in 2014 and either taking the 49ers to Super Bowl XLIX or being named to the 1st or 2nd All-Pro teams. It is unlikely that Kaepernick will make an All-Pro team based on the type of offense the 49ers employ, so it's Super Bowl-or-Bust for Kaepernick.
In 2014 Kaepernick's salary will jump to a minimum of slightly over $15 million, or up to slightly over $17 million if the 49ers reach the Super Bowl. If Kaepernick earns that $17 million salary no one will be too concerned. However, if they fail that $15 million salary will loom large over the franchise.
With the salary cap expected to rise to between $140 and $145 million for 2015, the 49ers currently have approximately $143 million tied up in their top 51 contracts. Not included in those top 51 are Michael Crabtree, Mike Iupati, Chris Culliver, and Glenn Dorsey for 2015.
As is the case with any deal of this size, sacrifices will need to be made in other areas. One such area could be Kaepernick himself. As Mike Florio from Pro Football Talk points out, the 49ers can create cap space in any given year by converting base salary to bonus money. While this isn't unique to Kaepernick's contract, it does prove that Kaepernick meant it when he said he wanted to make sure the 49ers could keep the best team on the field possible.
With this deal Colin Kaepernick decided to go all-in. Now it's time to make sure he ends up with a Royal Flush.