The phrasing is important because "In order to seek a trade and not lose his guaranteed money, [Kaepernick] needs written permission," according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. As of Thursday, he has not received it.
Getlin's report comes on the same day new 49ers head coach Chip Kelly told assembled reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis that the 28-year-old signal-caller wanted to stay in the Bay Area, per CSN Bay Area's Matt Maiocco: "He wants to be here. He's never expressed to me that he doesn’t want to be here. He expressed to me that he was excited about getting healthy and getting going. And we’re excited about him getting healthy and getting going."
On Friday, Bleacher Report's Jason Cole reported the 49ers were still debating whether to trade Kaepernick:
Rapoport also noted Kelly wants Kaepernick to compete for the starting quarterback job.
A day earlier, 49ers general manager Trent Baalke expressed a similar sentiment, per ESPN.com: "I think the good thing is we've got two guys that have gone into games who've proven they can play, and Colin's done some awful good things through his career, won some big games for the San Francisco 49ers, and [we] expect him to come back."
|Season||Games||Pass Yds||Pass TD||INT||Rush Yds||Rush TD|
But even if Kaepernick remains intent on changing zip codes, doing so could be difficult because of the sheer size of his contract, according to 95.7 The Game's John Middlekauff:
As multiple execs told me during the fall, Kap's contract (combined with his play) is not tradeable. Doubt anything has changed— John Middlekauff (@JohnMiddlekauff) February 25, 2016
However, it's worth noting the unique structure of Kaepernick's contract could make it more appealing to interested buyers if he receives permission to seek a trade.
According to Spotrac, Kaepernick's deal is essentially a pay-as-you-go model that gives the team an option to cut him before his annual salaries become guaranteed on April 1.
For instance, Kaepernick's $11.9 million base salary becomes guaranteed on April 1 of this year, but even if it vests, his employer will have a chance to opt out of the remaining years on the deal when the same option is available in 2017.
|Season||Base Salary||Cap Hit|
|2016 (Guaranteed on 4/1)||$11,900,000||$15,890,753|
|2017 (Guaranteed on 4/1)||$14,500,000||$19,365,753|
|2018 ($5.2 million guaranteed on 4/1)||$15,000,000||$19,865,753|
There are also stipulations in Kaepernick's contract that call for an annual de-escalation of $2 million if he doesn't take at least 80 percent of the team's snaps and get named as a first- or second-team All-Pro or win the NFC Championship Game, according to Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio.
Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News provided an informed take on Kaepernick's current financial situation:
I would assume Kaepernick's agents want to find a team of his choice that will trade for him and then re-do his deal.— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) February 25, 2016
That said, trading for Kaepernick would be accompanied by serious risk—and not just because he has failed to meet expectations each of the past two seasons.
After making just nine appearances in 2015, Kaepernick was placed on season-ending injured reserve on Nov. 21 to undergo surgery on his left (non-throwing) shoulder. The Sacramento Bee (via ESPN.com's Paul Gutierrez) later reported on Jan. 6 that Kaepernick also had surgery performed on his right thumb and underwent a procedure for his balky left knee.
As far as red flags go, those are pretty significant. However, draft season is a time for teams to get ambitious—especially when it comes to wheeling and dealing.
The fact that Kaepernick's camp is reportedly pushing for a change of scenery could ultimately put the 49ers front office in a position to receive a solid return on its investment should suitors come forward.