Colin Kaepernick opts out of contract with 49ers, heads to free agency

As expected, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has opted out of the remainder of his contract. The decision didn’t come as a shock to new coach Kyle Shanahan, who said Wednesday that “we had an idea he would go that route,” per NFL.com. 

The opt-out clears $14.4 million from the 49ers’ cap for 2017, per Spotrac.

NFL Network reported Wednesday that Kaepernick’s agents Jeff Nalley and Sean Kiernan informed NFL teams of their client’s decision.

Early last season, Kaepernick restructured his contract to essentially make it a one-year deal with a player option for the 2017 season. Days later, he was named the starting quarterback for the remainder of the season. (Those events, of course, all followed Kaepernick becoming one of the biggest stories in the NFL when he refused to stand for the national anthem as a protest against police brutality.) 

He wound up starting 11 games, winning one, while completing 59.2 percent of his passes at 6.8 yards per attempt, throwing 16 touchdowns against four interceptions. He also ran 69 times for 468 yards and two additional scores. Even though new GM John Lynch said his evaluation of Kaepernick was ongoing, it was widely expected that the two sides would part this offseason, with Kaepernick seeking employment elsewhere and the Niners finding their quarterback of the future via the draft, free agency, or a trade. That process is now apparently underway. 

There are several teams that will be looking for a starting quarterback this offseason, but based on his play, it seems unlikely that any of them will commit to Kaepernick at that spot. If he’s willing to settle for a backup job, though, it’s possible that he finds continued employment. 

CBS Sports Writer

Jared Dubin is a New York lawyer and writer. He joined CBSSports.com in 2014 and has since spent far too much of his time watching film and working in spreadsheets. Full Bio

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