INDIANAPOLIS -- One of the biggest questions of the offseason got a definitive two-word answer Wednesday.
"Absolutely, yeah," Baalke said.
Honestly, the answer isn't much different from what the team had been saying. Baalke told other news outlets that Kaepernick would be on the 49ers' roster April 1. That date is significant because if Kaepernick is on the roster on April Fools' Day his $11.9 million salary becomes guaranteed.
The plan is to keep Kaepernick past April 1 and have him start to work with new coach Chip Kelly on April 4, when new coaches can start meeting their players. It will be Kelly's job to see if he can reconstruct Kaepernick into the quarterback who had the franchise one play from winning a Super Bowl.
The situation isn't much different from what the Chicago Bears went through in 2015. Jay Cutler was an unpopular quarterback at the time. Many of the Bears fans had given up on him. But he had a $10 million guarantee on his contract.
The team hired John Fox as its head coach and Ryan Pace as its general manager. Instead of trying to trade Cutler or bite the $10 million bullet by cutting him, Fox and Pace decided to take a one-year flier and see if it could work to the benefit of the franchise. Cutler earned respect from his new bosses for being tough and playing through a hamstring injury. Plus, he showed more leadership than in previous years.
The Cutler-Bears relationship hasn't been an issue this offseason. Offensive coordinator Adam Gase turned his good season with Cutler into a head-coaching job with the Miami Dolphins. I'm sure that, like Baalke and Kelly, the Bears' brass looked at the options to replace Cutler and came back with the idea that it wasn't worth it to get rid of him.
Talented quarterbacks are hard to find. On some franchises, it could take longer than a decade to acquire a quarterback with the skills of Cutler or Kaepernick. Cutler may have been an unknown to Fox, but Baalke knows Kaepernick well. It was a matter of getting Kelly on board.
You can figure Kelly looked at the situation as if having the quarterback in hand was better than going into the draft or free agency not knowing what the result would be. Kelly could look from afar and see good things. Former 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and his offensive coordinator, Greg Roman, had Kaepernick playing at a level that advanced the 49ers to two NFC championship games, including the loss in Super Bowl XLVII.
If it doesn't work out, the 49ers would have lost a year, but Kelly will now get his shot to work with Kaepernick to get the quarterback back to where he was.
Sure, Kaepernick may not have the full support of the players in the locker room. But winning cures those problems. If Kelly can build Kaepernick back into being a winning quarterback, Baalke can concentrate on improving other areas of the roster.
"Absolutely, yeah," might not be the most defining statement, but it sets up the action of not cutting or trading Kaepernick before April 1. An $11.9 million guarantee says it all. The 49ers may have plenty of salary-cap room because of the downturn of their once-great talent base, but few teams are going to make the mistake of accepting a payment that big with those salary-cap implications.
Kaepernick will wear a 49ers cap this season. Now that his future is settled, let's move on to finding a new home for Robert Griffin III and figuring out which teams will pick quarterbacks in the 2016 draft.