BOCA RATON, Fla. — The month of March has been dominated by a pair of quarterbacks who barely played last season.
- Remaining free agents
- Battista: Five free agency stories to watch
- Wesseling: Which franchises are on the rise?
- Collateral damage: Players hurt by free agency
- Top free agents available
- Free agency winners and losers
- Seven riskiest free-agent signings
- Brooks: How free agency will affect the draft
- Broncos stay course in letting Osweiler walk
One day after 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said the team is “nowhere near” trading the signal-caller, new coach Chip Kelly went a step further Wednesday, saying during the NFC Coaches Breakfast that San Francisco has never discussed releasing Kaepernick prior to April 1, per CSN Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco.
That date matters because if Kaepernick is still on the roster by April Fool’s Day, his $12 million salary will be guaranteed for the 2016 season.
Kelly on Wednesday, though, stood up for Kaepernick, arguing that the quarterback — on the mend from three different surgeries since November — can still play.
“It’s not like his skill set diminished,” Kelly said, per NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport. “… He didn’t fall off, he got hurt. Let’s get him healthy.”
Coaches want as many players as they can get — and Kelly’s no different. While Blaine Gabbert showed plenty of improvement as a starter last season, Kelly’s interest in Kaepernick dates back to his time with the Philadelphia Eagles. Besides, a rejuvenated Kaepernick would be a fascinating match for Kelly’s attack.
While it’s not too late for the Broncos to swoop in and make a play for the passer, the Niners sound content to keep Kaepernick around for another season unless they’re blown away by an offer.