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.