- Bill Williamson, ESPN Staff Writer
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Should they have stuck to the $1.073 million they owed him on the final year of his rookie deal?
Instead, the 49ers and Kaepernick’s agents finalized a six-year extension worth more than $110 million with a record $61 million in guaranteed money, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Kaepernick is now under contract through the 2020 season.
He will turn 27 in November. He has just 29 career starts. He is still learning the game. He is not in his prime yet.
And he is not overpaid. The average money is in line with what the elite quarterbacks in the NFL make. Don't get tripped up by the guaranteed money. OK, it is a record, and it will likely be surpassed by the next quarterback who signs a long-term extension.
The reality is, quarterbacks get paid in the NFL. Believe me, every NFL team wants to have to pay its quarterback big. If not, it means the team doesn't have its answer at the position. If a quarterback is good, he is going to get paid. Kaepernick has reached that point.
If you don’t think Kaepernick has arrived, please think again. He is 21-8 in his NFL starts and has already won three road playoff games. He has been to the NFC Championship Game three times -- starting two -- and to the Super Bowl.
He is entering just his second full season as a starter, and he’s that accomplished. For those who might argue he hasn't reached his potential, I offer this: How is that a bad thing?
He is only going to improve. Yes, Kaepernick does need to work on his pocket presence, and yes, he's not as far along with his read progressions as the team would like.
But he will master those areas.
What quarterback was fully polished after 29 starts? He’s going to get better like all good quarterbacks do. In two years, I expect this deal to look like a bargain for the 49ers.
San Francisco will be rewarded for this investment. For those of you who don’t think he is worth this contract, answer me this: What is the alternative?
Let him walk in free agency and try to develop another cheaper quarterback? Good luck with that. You think the Cleveland Browns, Oakland Raiders or Jacksonville Jaguars wouldn't love to be in the position to commit long term to a 26-year-old with Kaepernick’s résumé?
The 49ers are built to win now, and they are built to win in the future. The fact that Kaepernick has been secured for the prime of his career at the going quarterback rate only improves San Francisco’s chances.