Dec 15, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) runs into the tunnel after they beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. San Francisco 49ers defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 33-14. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

49ers QB Colin Kaepernick, LB Aldon Smith to Leave Money on the Table?

Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

San Francisco 49ers‘ quarterback Colin Kaepernick can now sign a contract extension, as can fellow 3-year veteran Aldon Smith. These two players may command salaries much less than what they are worth, but for different reasons.

Aldon Smith, as has been well-documented, faces legal issues stemming from multiple incidents leading up to a stint in rehab this season. If he gets an extension, which is by no means guaranteed yet, he will likely get one for far less than his on-field performance would otherwise suggest.

Kaepernick, on the other hand, is expected by most to earn a salary of around $18 million a year. Though the 49ers could certainly make this happen by cutting costs at other positions, the gigantic jump–from less than $1 million this past year–would make it extremely difficult to keep free agents or sign impact players. Kaepernick realizes this, as he mentioned to Mike and Mike yesterday when asked about his contract negotiations:

I think it’s a balance. You want to be paid fairly for what you feel like you’re doing in comparison to your peers. But at the same time, you have to realize, if we want to get Anquan Boldin back, if we want to get Donte Whitner to come back, we’re going to have to make moves to get them back. And there has to be room for everyone.

That’s something I’m going to let my agent and the organization try and figure out. But hopefully, it’s a position where we can assemble the best team we need.

If Kaepernick can save the 49ers enough money to, say, sign both Donte Whitner and Anquan Boldin, the 49ers will have a much greater chance of Super Bowl success next season. Even without them, the 49ers should be a very good team. Kaepernick may be criticized quite often by “haters” due to tattoos and his previously off-putting responses to media inquiries, but with comments like this–especially should he follow through–he shows the genuine unselfish player he truly is.

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