Colin Kaepernick’s new contract has been described in a lot of ways, including a series of one-year contracts.
In the NFL, where the overwhelming majority of base salaries are not guaranteed, most players are essentially playing on year-to-year contracts.
If a high-priced player does not perform, the team can cut him with the only penalty being a cap cost of the remaining proration of the player’s signing bonus.
Sources told CSNBayArea.com that Kaepernick was intent on getting a contract from the 49ers that was flexible enough to allow the 49ers to sign other players.
Therefore, Kaepernick – and his agents – made a concession to accept less up-front money (with a signing bonus of $12,328,766) in exchange for a total package that averages $19 million per season, making him the sixth-highest paid quarterback in terms of average per year.
The contract is not much different than extensions the 49ers worked out with other players, including NaVorro Bowman, Anthony Davis and Patrick Willis. The difference, of course, is that Kaepernick is a quarterback. And quarterbacks typically get a lot more up-front, fully guaranteed money.
The cash value of Kaepernick’s contract over the first three seasons is a reasonable $40.173 million. But there’s no denying that Kaepernick will be under pressure to perform – obviously, a facet of his contract from which he did not shy away.
But Kaepernick is not the only 49ers player under pressure to perform. The salary cap is $133 million per team this season. The 49ers are currently $5.725 million under the cap.
In 2015, the cap is expected to rise to approximately $140 million. The 49ers have 64 players under contract through 2015. Their top-51 players account for $143.362 million, according to a source. Of course, this does not include such players as Michael Crabtree and Mike Iupati, whose contracts are scheduled to expire after the upcoming season.
Here are the top-paid 49ers for 2015, which gives an indication of which players will be under the most scrutiny to live up to their price tags:
Includes 2015 cash value (2015 cap figure in parenthesis)
QB Colin Kaepernick $12.8 million ($15.265 million)
OLB Aldon Smith $9.754 million ($9.754 million)
LB Patrick Willis $8.315 million ($8.736 million)
OLB Ahmad Brooks $6.85 million ($8.35 million)
WR Stevie Johnson $6.025 million ($6.025 million)
WR Anquan Boldin $6 million ($6.909 million)
LB NaVorro Bowman $5.45 million ($8.404 million)
LT Joe Staley $5.2 million ($5.2 million)
TE Vernon Davis $4.95 million ($7.017 million)
DL Justin Smith $4.25 million ($6.436 million)
DL Ray McDonald $4.2 million ($5.946 million)
S Antoine Bethea $3.5 million ($4.75 million)
RT Anthony Davis $3.35 million ($6.716 million)
K Phil Dawson $3.134 million ($4.134 million)