San Francisco 49ers: Joe Flacco

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The San Francisco 49ers and the agent of Colin Kaepernick will surely talk about a contract extension in the offseason.

Let's look at the situation:

Why he's up for a deal: Kaepernick was a second-round pick in 2011. His contracts runs through 2014. He is set to be an unrestricted free agent in March, 2015.

What should he expect: It's an interesting situation. After Kaepernick led the 49ers to the Super Bowl in less than a full season as a starter, it would expected that Kaepernick would cash in as soon as he could -- after this season. It could still happen, but there is question of how much Kaepernick will get. Initially, it was expected Kaepernick would be a candidate to become the highest paid player in the NFL. Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco signed a six-year, $120.6 million deal earlier this year to make him the highest paid player in the player.

However, Kaepernick, 26, hasn't had a dynamic second season. He hasn't been awful and he is clearly hurt by a lack of receiving options. But Kaepernick hasn't dominated games. If that continues this season, I'm not sure the 49ers -- who will have to clear money for a big contract, anyway -- would feel comfortable giving Kaepernick a Flacco-like deal. They may want to see Kaepernick have a solid 2014 first. The 49ers could offer a lesser contract, but I'd doubt Kaepernick would agree. So, it might be the logical decision for both sides for Kaepernick to go into his contract year without a deal. The 49ers could always franchise Kaepernick if a deal is not done by the 2015 offseason.

Prediction: A deal will get done. The 49ers love Kaepernick and his long-term potential. It's just that these colossal deals are tricky and everything has to be right for both sides, so it could mean it takes a little longer to complete than some expected. By the way, 2011 first-round pick Aldon Smith is also eligible to get a new deal after this season. But the team may wait because of his recent off-field issues. So, some big-money decisions by the 49ers could be delayed.

Final 2013 preseason QB snap counts

August, 30, 2013
Six projected starting quarterbacks played in their teams' final exhibition games of the 2013 preseason. The Seattle Seahawks' Russell Wilson and the San Francisco 49ers' Colin Kaepernick were two of them, and both led touchdown drives before exiting after one series. None of the NFL's projected starters got hurt Thursday night.

The chart shows week-by-week snap counts for quarterbacks I singled out as projected starters heading into preseason. NFC West alums Kevin Kolb and Matt Flynn might not start after all, but I've left them in the chart for context.

St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher has generally played starters in the final preseason game. He did not this time.

"Typically I have, but I guess in the new world that we’re in, it’s hard to," Fisher told reporters after the Rams' game against Baltimore. "What that implies is that I'm pleased with where they are right now, those guys that sat. They worked hard. We got a great workout and it allowed them to fast-forward their minds to Arizona."

Fisher could have been alluding to the run of higher-profile injuries around the league this summer. Last year, the Rams lost rookie defensive tackle Michael Brockers to a high-ankle sprain in the final preseason game.

The Rams emerged from this preseason healthier than their division rivals. That did not stop the 49ers from playing their offensive starters or the Seahawks from playing starters on both sides of the ball Thursday night. The Arizona Cardinals rested most of their starters, though Michael Floyd was one notable exception.

San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh offered no explanation for playing his starting offense one series. Kaepernick hadn't gotten many snaps through the first three games, however. Getting additional reps for Kaepernick and the team's group of emerging receivers made some sense on the surface.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll went into the final preseason game saying he wanted starters to play because the team values this games as competitive opportunities.