I have my own personal grudge against Colin Kaepernick. I'll go ahead and admit that.
I think he's a distraction, on and off the field. I think Kaepernick's dedication to his craft is questionable. I don't see his general disposition resulting in long-term success. I think he runs and generally presents like a handicapped gazelle. But alas, none of that matters. None of it. He and the rest of the 49ers successfully bounced the Falcons out of the playoffs two seasons ago. For now, he owns us, but that doesn't mean he deserves $126 million over 6 years. Heck, even the 49ers believe that. Let me explain.
Dave had some interesting things to say about Kaepernick's new contract yesterday, and I'd recommend reading his post if you haven't already. While it's true that Kaepernick's deal is team-friendly, it does essentially give him franchise tag salary. His ceiling would warrant that, but anything less might not. And let's not ignore one very telling fact: most of his guaranteed money is injury-related. To me that reeks of, "you're really great, and we like what you do on the field, but we're just not convinced you can or will keep it up." That starkly juxtaposes how the Falcons probably felt when Ryan inked his new deal.
Ryan's deal was a five year extension, guaranteeing him $59 million. By comparison, Drew Brees' new deal guaranteed him $60 million in 2012. As for Kaepernick, he's guaranteed only $13 million. The 49ers could walk away from him tomorrow and shoulder onlu $13.5 million in dead money. If the Falcons tried to do the same thing to Ryan tomorrow, they'd be looking at $51.4 million in dead money. Bottom line: somebody's team likes him more than somebody else's team.
For bits and wiggles, let's compare Kaepernick with Ryan. In 2013, Ryan played behind a very porous offensive line, a non-luxury Kaepernick hasn't had to stomach. Under pressure, Ryan completed over 56 percent of his passes. While under pressure, Kaepernick completed just 43.6 percent of his passes. Ryan's overall PFF rating (10.0 or 14/42 quarterbacks who played at least 25 percent of their team's offensive snaps) exceeded Kaepernick's (2.5 or 19/42). Ryan also had a better overall completion percentage and threw for 1,000+ more yards than Kaepernick. Shall I go on?
Look, football isn't personal. So no matter what I think of Kaepernick personally, all that really matters is what he does on the field. And he, unlike Ryan, has taken his team to the Super Bowl. But so did Trent Dilfer. And Dilfer won it! At the end of the day, the 49ers are taking a calculated, incentive-laden approach. It's smart from their end, but it sure says a lot about what they think of Kaepernick. He's a dynamic player with a unique skill set, but he's hardly a franchise quarterback.