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49ers wanted to ditch Kaepernick’s injury guarantee before he played

Colin Kaepernick is so tired of sitting on the bench, he’s willing to risk $14.5 million to get off of it.

A  report from NFL insider Ian Rapoport claims that Kaepernick and the 49ers are working out a restructured contract to alleviate his injury guarantee for the 2017 season, the demoted veteran may be forcing his way back into starting contention.

Head coach Chip Kelly previously stated that Kaepernick’s main issue in competing for the starting role was his lack of weight following an extensive rehab.

Related: Kaepernick looking like the starter for week 6

Speculation was abound, though, that Kaepernick’s guaranteed $14.5 million base salary for the 2017 season in case of injury cast doubts in the front office that it was smart to allow him playing time.

But with the reports of a restructured contract that may dissipate that financial risk, it appears as if the path may finally be cleared for Kaepernick to make his return to the field.

Current starter Blaine Gabbert has done little to keep the front office from giving Kaepernick a look in Chip Kelly’s offense. He has struggled in his four starts, earning a meager 69.6 quarterback rating while completing just 58 percent of his attempts on the year.

After losing his starter role following eight starts last year, Kaepernick has seen sparse playing time. Kaepernick had a lengthy rehab following procedures to his thumb, shoulder and knee.

His most extensive action since then came in the final preseason game against San Diego, where he completed 11-of-18 passes for 103 yards. Kelly has said that Kaepernick has been receiving about a quarter of the snaps in practice behind Gabbert.

Although the details of the restructured contract have yet to be released, an imminent deal can only mean that the 49ers have serious intent about getting Kaepernick on the field.

As a competitor, Kaepernick’s decision to leave money on the table may be seen as an altruistic move to get back to playing the sport he loves. But leaving out money may also lead to financial gains for Kaepernick moving forward.

There’s no telling what the 49ers may do to address the quarterback situation for next year, but it stands to reason that they would either draft and develop someone, or look towards free agency. In either scenarios, Kaepernick would again be the odd man out, making his hefty salary disposable.

Without much playing time and resume material under his belt, Kaepernick would likely receive lowball offers from any team willing to take a chance on him. But by restructuring his contract and getting himself on the field, the 28-year old holds the ability to enhance his own stock by leading the 49ers on a resurgent stretch throughout the rest of the year.

Regardless of how he does this year, it appears as if the 49ers might be looking to cut ties with Kaepernick regardless. Per Jason La Confora of CBS Sports,  the team is also looking to make him an unrestricted free agent in 2017 as part of the restructured deal as well.

La Canfora doesn’t completely negate a potential return the 49ers however, stating that general manager Trent Baalke would look to claim a compensatory pick from any team Kaepernick chooses to sign with.

Similar to major league baseball, needing to give up a pick in order to sign Kaepernick may scare away suitors, unless he proves he’s worth it with the remainder of the 2016 season which is a win-win for all parties involved. If a pick proves to be too much to give for Kaepernick, the 49ers may be able to sign him back at a friendlier deal.

The move by Kaepernick means that his future is now in his hands. And it seems as if he’s willing to bet a hefty sum on himself being able to regroup the 49ers struggling offense.

Shawn Whelchel is SFBay’s San Francisco 49ers beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @ShawnWhelchel on Twitter and at for full coverage of 49ers football.

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