Kaepernick officially opts out of 49ers' contract to become free agent

Kaepernick officially opts out of 49ers' contract to become free agent

INDIANAPOLIS – Quarterback Colin Kaepernick officially opted out of his contract to make him an unrestricted free agent, the club announced Friday afternoon.

The 49ers have no quarterbacks under contract for the 2017 season. Kaepernick was scheduled to make $14.9 million in salary and bonuses, which will now count as savings on the team's salary cap. The 49ers have approximately $90 million in cap room with the start of the new league year scheduled for March 9.

If Kaepernick had not opted out of his contract, the 49ers would have released him.

Kaepernick met last week with 49ers general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan at the team’s headquarters in Santa Clara to talk about how both sides will handle the offseason.

“There was a great understanding and I think we both agreed that under the current construct it wasn’t going to work out,” Lynch said this week. “But we said let’s not close the door.

“As he hits free agency that’s something that we’ll keep our eyes open, and we want him to keep us in mind as well. So it’s something that we left that door open in a very real and positive way.”

Kaepernick started 58 of the 49ers’ past 71 games since taking over as the team’s starting quarterback over Alex Smith during the 2012 season.

In Kaepernick’s first season as the starter, the 49ers advanced to the Super Bowl. Kaepernick posted a 98.3 passer rating in seven starts in 2012. In his first playoff start, he rushed for 181 yards against the Green Bay Packers.

Kaepernick’s best full season as a starter was 2013, when he threw a career-best 21 touchdown passes with eight interceptions for a 91.6 passer rating.

In 2016, Kaepernick replaced Blaine Gabbert as the starter after five games. He threw 16 touchdown passes with four interceptions and a 90.7 rating. He also rushed for 468 yards.

Kaepernick signed a six-year, $115 million extension in June 2014. In reality, he served three years and earned approximately $39.3 million on the contract. Kaepernick signed a contract restructure in October which gave him the freedom to opt out of his contract to void the remainder of his deal.

Kaepernick recently hired new agents Jeff Nalley and Sean Kiernan to represent him in future contract negotiations. Earlier this week, sources first told ESPN that he would no longer kneel during the playing of the national anthem as a way to protest racial inequality in the United States.

McDonald toasts Shanahan for communication of trade talks

McDonald toasts Shanahan for communication of trade talks

SANTA CLARA -- Tight end Vance McDonald became aware of a report the 49ers had engaged in trade talks involving him at his brother’s wedding in Austin, Texas.

But McDonald said he did not give it much thought because he had another immediate priority.

“I still had my best man’s speech to do,” McDonald said.

Later that evening during last month's draft, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan called McDonald to keep him in the loop. There was no trade, and McDonald returned to Santa Clara on Monday to continue participation in the 49ers’ offseason program.

“The first thing I told him was, ‘Man, there aren’t a lot of coaches that would do this,’” McDonald said of his talk with Shanahan. “He just wanted to fill me in.”

Nearly four weeks later, it is as if nothing ever happened.

“The only trade discussions we had was when another team asked us about Vance on draft day,” Shanahan said this week. “And after a team asked us about Vance then we asked other teams if they’d be interested in that same thing.”

McDonald said he completely understood why the 49ers would check with other teams around the league to see what they could acquire in a trade.

“Basically, it’s just like any other team in the NFL would do,” McDonald said. “If you’re a 2-14 team, obviously, there are a lot of things you can improve on, a lot of spots that need to be filled. There are a lot of things you need to improve upon in the offseason. So if teams are going to call and inquire about you, then obviously the next step is to … call around to every other team.

“So that’s exactly what happened to me. It isn’t like they don’t want me here. There was never a lack of communication on any level.”

Even before he knew his immediate future with the 49ers, McDonald said he tried to maintain the proper state of mind.

“I had the mindset this isn’t going to change anything,” McDonald said. “I’m going to end up where I end up and I’m just going to continue doing what I’m doing, which is do everything to be a better football player.”

McDonald enters the fifth year of his NFL career after signing a new deal in December that amounts to a three-year, $19.7 million extension. Three days later, the 49ers placed McDonald on injured reserve with a shoulder injury.

McDonald was on pace for his best season as a pass-catcher. In 11 games, he had 24 receptions for 391 yards and four touchdowns.

Now, he is competition for a spot in the 49ers’ offense, along with fifth-round draft pick George Kittle, undrafted rookie Cole Hikutini, and veterans Logan Paulsen, Garrett Celek and Blake Bell.

McDonald said he likes what Shanahan has brought to the 49ers, including added responsibilities of the tight end position.

“Last year, all we talked about was how fast our pace was,” McDonald said. “With Kyle, it’s insanely quick. He’s a very detailed guy. It’s interesting to hear him present information. You try to apply it and play with the same mindset that he has. It’s a task that we all enjoy doing.

“We (tight ends) are the end of the line. There’s communication with us and the wide receivers and running backs. We’re also in command with receiving corps. There are a lot of things on our plate. Hopefully, this doesn’t get back to the wide receivers, but we’re supposed to be smarter than them. It’s a fun job to have. We don’t try to rub it in too much.”

Chip Kelly returns to college football -- as analyst

Chip Kelly returns to college football -- as analyst

Chip Kelly is back in college football.

The former Oregon coach, who served as 49ers head coach last season, signed a multiyear deal as an ESPN analyst, the network announced Friday morning. He will work predominantly on pre-games, halftimes and in studio wraps each Saturday on ESPN2.

“Over the last 30 years, I have experienced football from one perspective – as a coach,” Kelly said in a statement. “Working in television will allow me to see the game from a different angle; simultaneously, I‘ll provide viewers an insight to the mindset of a coach and team while offering alternative views of various situations.

“Once I decided to make the move to TV, my familiarity with ESPN, combined with their high-quality production and vital role in college football, it was easily the best network suited for me.”

Kelly, 53, was fired on the evening of the 49ers’ season finale. The 49ers went 2-14 under Kelly and set the franchise record with 13 consecutive losses. Their only victories came against the Los Angeles Rams. Kelly also auditioned with FOX for the analyst job vacated when John Lynch became 49ers general manager, sources told NBC Sports Bay Area.

Kelly served as Oregon’s head coach from 2009 to ’12. His teams compiled a record of 46-7. Under Kelly, the Ducks advanced to the 2011 national championship game, losing to Auburn 22-19.

Kelly won the AP College Football Coach of the Year. He twice won the Pac-10 coach of the year. He left Oregon to become head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2013. After his first two NFL teams went 10-6, Kelly was fired in 2015 with one game remaining in the season. The Eagles were 6-9 at the time of Kelly's firing.

“Chip is one of the most innovative football minds of our generation,” ESPN senior coordinating producer Lee Fitting said. “As a coach, he saw the game from a unique perspective, never afraid to take an unconventional approach. We want him to bring that mentality to our college football coverage each week, offering fans a varying viewpoint outside of the conventional thought process.”