SEATTLE, Wash. - After practicing all week and being listed as probable for Sunday's game against the Seahawks with an injury to his non-throwing shoulder, former 49ers starting quarterback Colin Kaepernick was placed on season-ending injured reserve Saturday. It's stunning news.
Kaepernick, who was replaced by backup Blaine Gabbert in the team's last game preceding the recent bye week, told the Sacramento Bee he had been dealing with the injury since the loss Oct. 4 to the Green Bay Packers.
This surprising development means Gabbert will likely remain the starter for the remainder of the season while undrafted rookie Dylan Thompson was promoted from the practice squad to the active roster.
Kaepernick threw for 1,615 yards in eight games this season, with six touchdowns and five interceptions. He was benched while the 49ers' offense ranked last in the NFL in both scoring and yardage by significant margins. He appeared in two plays in the game against the Falcons after officials ruled Gabbert had to be checked for a head injury following a big hit from linebacker Philip Wheeler.
Before Saturday, Kaepernick's future with the 49ers was in question. He's slated to account for $16.765 million against the salary cap next season, including bonuses, after signing his six-year extension in the summer of 2014. His $11.9-million base salary is guaranteed for injury only April 1, the start of the new league year.
Kaepernick became the starting quarterback midway through 2012 after replacing Alex Smith, who sustained a head injury against the St. Louis Rams. The 49ers reached the Super Bowl that season after Kaepernick surprised the league with both his arm and his running ability.
Kaepernick, along with one of the league's premier defenses, led the 49ers to a 12-4 record and return trip to the conference title game following the 2013 regular season, where they came up a play short against the Seattle Seahawks. Kaeperick had four turnovers in that game before losing 23-17 after cornerback Richard Sherman deflected Kaepernick's attempt to Michael Crabtree to linebacker Malcolm Smith in the final moments.
Kaepernick has a 4-2 record in the postseason, including road wins over the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship Game in January 2013, and wins in frigid Lambeau Field and against the Carolina Panthers the next season.
In 2014, he struggled for the first time in his career, leading his team to an 8-8 finish which wound up being former coach Jim Harbaugh's final season in San Francisco, before taking the head coaching job at Michigan, his alma mater.
Harbaugh played a significant role in drafting Kaepernick in the second round, 36th overall, in 2011, before his first year as head coach.
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