May 8, 2016
San Francisco 49ers Rumors: Colin Kaepernick Could End Up As Third-String Quarterback This Year

The San Francisco 49ers are rumored to be moving Colin Kaepernick to the far end of the bench for 2016 with reports from San Francisco that he may end up as the third-string quarterback this season and playing it out the same way Robert Griffin III did last season.

The speculation came from Grant Cohn of the Press Democrat, who wrote that the 49ers are likely to tuck Kaepernick behind Blaine Gabbert and possibly rookie Jeff Driskel as well. If true, it would be more of a cost-saving move than a reflection on his abilities, Cohn wrote.

"And I think the 49ers want Colin to be the third-stringer," Cohn wrote Friday (via UPI). "As a third-string quarterback, the Niners could de-activate Colin every game and save the weekly $125,000 roster bonuses they'd have to pay him."

There doesn't appear to be much hope for Colin Kaepernick to find a way out of San Francisco, either. Pro Football Talk noted that he, like fellow quarterbacks Ryan Fitzpatrick and Sam Bradford, is stuck in limbo with no teams jumping to acquire them. Bradford has asked for a trade out of Philadelphia after the team drafted Carson Wentz, but the Eagles are reportedly planning to keep him on the roster. That could lead to what the report called a "Carson Palmer style retirement," where Bradford sits out until a team comes along that wants him.

Fitzpatrick has been unable to reach a deal with the New York Jets, with the two sides reportedly millions of dollars apart on a new contract. But these situations are both still better than the one in San Francisco, the report noted, as Kaepernick and the Broncos seem to be stuck in a holding pattern with so sign of it breaking anytime soon.

"Of the three situations, the most ambiguous is unfolding (or not) in San Francisco. Nearly three months ago, Kaepernick asked for permission to seek a trade. He met twice with the Broncos; the fact that the 49ers allowed this to happen perhaps says all anyone needs to know about whether the 49ers truly want him back.

"But Kaepernick wasn't traded to Denver, the Broncos drafted Paxton Lynch in round one, and there's apparently no one else interested in Kaepernick."

The San Francisco 49ers are rumored to be nearing a decision point for Kaepernick, as the team will be on the hook for $11.9 million of his salary for 2016 if he were to get injured. As Kaepernick moves closer to full team activities, it will force the 49ers to either embrace him and make a place on the roster or ship him elsewhere.

With a trade not terribly likely -- there are really no teams outside of the New York Jets still looking for a quarterback -- it could be more likely that Kaepernick is cut.

The San Francisco 49ers could have an advantage if they keep Kaepernick, as the quarterback signed a team-friendly deal in 2014. He signed a 7-year, $126.97 million deal, but only $13.073 million was guaranteed at signing and $13,9 million due in 2016, UPI noted.

If the San Francisco 49ers rumors are true, it would represent a sharp and unlikely drop for Colin Kaepernick, who led the team to the NFC Championship in his first two season as full-time starter, including the Super Bowl in his second year. He has a lifetime 27-20 record as a starter, though he reached a low point in 2015 with six touchdowns and five interceptions while leading the team to a 2-6 record in games he started.

[Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images]