“Colin is our quarterback and we are excited to have him. He is not going anywhere. The media reports suggesting otherwise are without merit and quite frankly ridiculous,” Baalke said in a statement issued late Sunday night.
Jayson Braddock of KBME Sports Talk in Houston reported on Twitter the 49ers were putting Kaepernick "on the trading block" and were "Taking offers." Braddock named the Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Eagles as potential teams interested in making a deal.
We've been here before.
It was about this time last year when reports surfaced of Jim Harbaugh "nearly" getting traded to the Cleveland Browns. But as far as anyone was willing to admit, team CEO Jed York fielded the call from Browns executives and approached Harbaugh with the idea, asking if he had any interest in going to Cleveland. Harbaugh declined, of course.
Whether or not that qualifies as "nearly" getting traded is only known by York, Harbaugh, and whoever was on the other side of the call in Cleveland.
Whether or not Braddock's report true, it underscores what's already known about Kaepernick's contract. The deal is structured with minimal guarantees, giving the 49ers flexibility after 2015, when he is scheduled to earn a reported $12.328 million in salary and bonuses.
After the upcoming season, the 49ers could move on from Kaepernick with few financial repercussions.
That is the context in which Baalke and York view Kaepernick - which isn't changed by a report from a Houston radio host about Kaepernick being shopped in a trade. The underlying point is San Francisco created this situation by structuring the contract the way it did, giving the team the opportunity to move away from Kaepernick in 2016 if they choose.
So when a series of Tweets go viral - regardless of the source - history is not on York or Baalke's side. It's the reality created by the Harbaugh situation of last year, before his "mutual" parting of ways, which took credibility away from the front office regarding that proposed trade to Cleveland.
And that reality won't change unless the team makes Kaepernick indispensable with a restructured deal that's more player friendly beyond this season. Or, Kaepernick can return to the player he was before 2014 when the fledging star won five playoff games and force his employers' hand.
Otherwise, there's merit to questioning if Kaepernick will be around for the long haul based on the structure of his contract.
Baalke coming out quickly and denying the report would seemingly kill any trade speculation, considering the 49ers would likely let things linger to build a potential trade market if they were, in fact, looking to move Kaepernick for draft picks.
For now, the 49ers will continue to deal with unsightly rumors as long as the departure from Harbaugh is fresh in observers' minds.