What Is Colin Kaepernick's Trade Value, and Should 49ers Listen to Offers?

Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistNovember 12, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - NOVEMBER 11:  Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers runs around right end for seven yards and scores a touchdown against the St. Louis Rams in the fourth quarter of an NFL football game at Candlestick Park on November 11, 2012 in San Francisco, California. The game ended after sudden death overtime in a 24-24 tie.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers have a valuable backup quarterback behind Alex Smith in second-year player Colin Kaepernick, and the front office would be wise to entertain trade offers for the dual-threat quarterback. 

San Francisco traded up in the 2011 NFL draft to take Kaepernick with a second-round selection, No. 36 overall. 

On Sunday against the St. Louis Rams, Kaepernick put on a show with his ability to pull the ball down and run with elusive skill. He struggles with accuracy and reading defenses, but his ability to beat teams with his feet can at times leave him with easy completions. 

Kaepernick has thrown for only 206 yards on the season while sitting on the bench behind Smith, but has come in during crucial segments to gain yards on the ground. So far he has 177 yards and three touchdowns running the ball. 

A good comparison for Kaepernick on the field would be the polarizing Wildcat quarterback for the New York Jets, Tim Tebow. What separates him from Tebow is simple—Kaepernick is faster, more elusive and more accurate when passing the ball.

Kaepernick clearly needs some work when it comes to diagnosing a defense and making accurate passes, but as he develops he has some serious potential to be a better version of Tim Tebow who could provide some serious mismatches for teams around the NFL. 

The 49ers selected Kaepernick at a time when the front office was unsure whether Smith could be a franchise quarterback and lead the 49ers to the postseason. After a trip to the NFC Championship last year, it's safe to say Smith is entrenched as the starter in San Francisco. 

There is a trade market for Kaepernick in the NFL. Just last August Rex Ryan, the head coach of the New York Jets, made it clear he had an interest in Kaepernick (h/t ProfootballTalk):

"I saw the kid from San Francisco, Kaepernick...He runs a 4.4 or something.  I was really intrigued by him when he came out because I thought we were going to lose Brad.  [The 49ers] drafted him before we could, but I was interested in him.  He went for a 70-yard touchdown run the other day.  You’re seeing these guys and it’s hard to defend some of that stuff.  When you have the ability to throw, as well as run, it makes it tough."

Keep in mind Ryan and the Jets organization had already acquired Tebow from the Denver Broncos, so the praise is both unusual and noteworthy. Perhaps Ryan was simply attempting to justify his ridiculous use of the Wildcat with Tebow, but he cannot be the only head coach that feels the same way about Kaepernick. 

A developmental project to be sure, Kaepernick is an intriguing option for any NFL team with a struggling offensive attack. As Ryan notes, he has elite speed, and defenses have issues accounting for his running game along with his improving ability to pass the ball.

The 49ers have found their franchise quarterback, so it makes sense to test the market and find out just how much the rest of the NFL is willing to pay for Kaepernick's services. 

Worst-case scenario, some team in need of an offensive boost this offseason throws an extra pick the 49ers' way, which does nothing but help San Francisco. Reinforcing the team with a talented draft selection at the expense of a backup quarterback makes sense. 

Kaepernick's trade value isn't extremely high, but the 49ers front office would be doing themselves a disservice not at least dangling him out there on the market this offseason.