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There seems to be a firestorm caused by what I wrote about Colin Kaepernick. Oh my. If the column got you worked up, take a workout at the gym or go for a walk in nature. Even Kap’s mom, who seems nice, got into the act.

Here is what the Niners should do about Kap and his contract.

1. They should not negotiate an extension now.

2. They should make him play next season according to his contract, for slighly less than a million.

3. If he wins the Super Bowl in the upcoming season, the sky’s the limit. Pay him through the roof and God bless him.

4. If he does not win the Super Bowl, slap the franchise tag on him after the upcoming season. And let him try again. With the franchise tag, he would make a ton of dough, but not the $20 million he reportedly is asking for. The Niners hold all the leverage and should not cede it to Kap.

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47 Comments

  1. Stan

    I got’s to disagree. The 900grand was what he would have gotten for sitting on the bench looking at Alex Smith sweat. To get a Super Bowl appearance and two conference finals for that same amount is almost taking advantage of the guy…relative. And if he blows out the knee in summer chasing chicks? He better go to trade school. He hasn’t made lifetime money yet.
    I think on this Lowell,your digging the ditch deeper…best to cut the rope now..wink,wink.

    March 7th, 2014 12:20 pm

  2. Neal

    Not going to happen Lowell. You make perfect sense but the sports world is pretty much wacked.

    March 7th, 2014 12:38 pm

  3. Adusoron

    Lowell, your mistake on your prior Kaepernick contract article was in writing an emotionally fueled hit piece or attacking Colin’s character in a monetary negotiation that is part of the lifeblood of the NFL. You should have written this article instead. It communicated 4 defensible points, more objectively, without using the pejorative word “jack” in contradictory ways.

    March 7th, 2014 12:40 pm

  4. Streetglide

    You are such a meanie…

    March 7th, 2014 12:45 pm

  5. Mike Hatz

    Wow, I was expecting a column that put out shaky evidence that Kaepernick was the Son of Satan, brother of Josef Stalin, cousin to Adolf Hitler, and uncle to Justin Bieber.

    This column actually sort of made sense. I sort of agree with you, in principle based solely on the fact that Kaepernick is still under contract. On the flip side of that, however, is the fact that the 49ers have some cap space (or Kap space, depending on your perspective). They can resign him to a relatively lucrative (but not elite) salary that will pay him what the market will bear, make it back loaded, like a lot of contracts are these days, and incentive laden. Throw for 3000 yards? Here’s a bonus. Throw for 4000 yards? Bigger bonus. 30 touchdowns? Here’s a bonus. Make the playoffs, bonus, make the Super Bowl, bonus, win the Super Bowl, bonus.

    That way, you still lock down a rising star in the NFL for (likely) less than what he will get paid after next season, you put the contract issues to bed, and guarantee that he plays at a high level because he will want those elevators to kick in if he plays well. Does he deserve $18,000,000 a year, or even $20,000,000 as some sources are quoting? Maybe not. But you could conceivably pay him 15-16 million per year and make it incentive-laden.

    March 7th, 2014 12:51 pm

  6. MJ

    I agree. We need to separate the success the team has had with Kaep as the QB from his own personal success. This team had pretty much the same level of success with Alex as QB and yet people would credit everything but Alex for that success. Just because the 49ERS got to the SB and to a NFC championship game does not mean that Colin was the reason for this outcome. If you look at Colins’ career so far, you see 5 very good games and the rest are meh…. M..E..H..meh.

    As a QB, Kaep has been average at best. He has not lead any passing category of value. He’s not a 4000+ yard qb. He did not throw for over 30tds. He is not a consistent 300 yard, multi-passing td a game qb. He’s shown nothing more than a game manager (which isnt a bad thing at all) but he’s not shown he’s a top 7, top 10, top 15 qb in this league as a passer.

    The reason that Romo and Cutler and Stafford have gotten those big pay days is that a) they are already onto their 3rd contracts, not coming off their rookie deals and b) they have proven they have elite passing ability (yet have not been on teams as talented as the 49ers). You can not pay a guy 18+ million when he is so very unproven, that would handicap the 49ers for 3+ years.

    When fans can take off the rosey pink glasses and look at it without bias, they will see that Kaep’s “success” has been a direct result of being on one of the 3 best teams in the NFL, and that if he were playing on average teams, the Giants/Bears/Chargers/Dolphins/Lions/etc, that it would be a joke that he would be asking for money of this level.

    March 7th, 2014 12:52 pm

  7. Frank In Minnesota

    Stan has some valid points…maybe a one year deal because he is a starter with some success…but I agree that this quarterback is not in the 20 million bracket…

    March 7th, 2014 1:06 pm

  8. Mike Hatz

    Adusoron,

    Good to see another SKA brother on here!

    - Mikeymike4949

    March 7th, 2014 1:10 pm

  9. Sam

    Franchise tag isn’t a realistic option for QBs nowadays Cohn, their tag number is just too high. As an example, 49ers had around $15 million in free cap space this offseason, QB tag number was $16.9 million. So if the 49ers do not extend Kaepernick this offseason, he’s going to be on the open market next offseason. SuperBowl or not, he will cash in, he and his agent know that. If a young franchise QB like Kaepernick hits the market, look out. BTW whose the 49ers backup QB? Who holds all the leverage here again?

    March 7th, 2014 1:12 pm

  10. CohnZohn

    Adusoron, Thanks for your note. Emotion is good. I am an emotional person. I sure hope there is emotion in my writing. So much sports writing is just plain dead. I didn’t attack Kap’s character, didn’t accuse him of doing any number of bad things. I pointed out, by using the preschool image, that he is immature. He is immature. I stand behind that judgment and I am entitled to hold it and write it. I also pointed out he spoke from both sides of his mouth — he doesn’t want a big big contract, and now he does. I don’t respect being on both sides of an issue. It is indeed hypocritical to say one thing and then have your agent start promoting something else. I imagine it’s his agent who’s talking to all these national journalists. As a punishment, I did not say Kap should go to jail or have his fingernails pulled out. I said he should get smacked in the puss with a Boston Cream Pie. It was a joke. Big deal. So many readers don’t have a sense of humor when it comes to their favorite athletes. OK, I take back the Boston Cream Pie. Make it a New York Cheesecake.

    March 7th, 2014 1:16 pm

  11. Jimmy

    Lowell, I want to defend your Cutler comment. I believe a few days before you wrote your column, Jay Cutler signed a massive and nonsensical contract with the Bears. Seems people mistakenly thought you were comparing Kaep to Cutler for no apparent reason. They are wrong and do not follow the football landscape. You were comparing Kaep’s would-be nonsensical contract to Cutler’s just signed one.

    March 7th, 2014 1:17 pm

  12. CohnZohn

    Mike Hatz, This is not a column. It is a blog. My original Kap piece was a column I linked to my blog.

    March 7th, 2014 1:22 pm

  13. John

    What you just wrote is perfectly reasonable. Debating whether he is worth 18-20M is the right approach. Your last column was not that, you basically called him a jerk for even having the audacity to ASK for the money. You called him an unattractive personality when silent, and even more unattractive when he spoke. Wow. You took what is a valid discussion and turned it into an assassination of Kap as person. That’s why you’ve been universally panned around the country for your words.

    March 7th, 2014 1:32 pm

  14. Kathryn

    Well done Lowell – I for one enjoyed your original column and agree with the points you made (maybe because I’ve had 4 preschoolers who turned into 4 adults?) What I don’t understand is all these people who want to give Kaep a new contract before he earns it. I’ll be the first admit I don’t understand how paying someone a contracted amount doesn’t count against the cap, so that may be where I’m missing it. But, if he is paid 2014- $1MM, 2015 – $20,000 (generous tag amount) 2016- $23,000 (another generous tag amount) for a total of $44 MM over the next 3 years how is that not better for the 49ers than $18MM per year over 3 years for total $54MM? If he takes off and actually proves to be a good QB over those three years, extend him then. Otherwise, spend those three years looking for a better alternative. What am I missing?????

    March 7th, 2014 1:59 pm

  15. Kathryn

    Oops, meant 2015- $20MM and 2016 – $23MM

    March 7th, 2014 2:00 pm

  16. CohnZohn

    John, But I really do find Kap an unattractive personality in the way he consistently and intentionally portrays himself to me and the media. Am I not allowed to write that? It’s not assassination if it’s the truth. I hope someone teaches him to be a gracious person. He may be gracious at home. I have no knowledge of that. He’s allowed to ask for what salary he wants, but he should not have stated at the get-go that he wouldn’t ask for an exorbitant amount and then do the opposite. As far as my getting “universally panned,” I’ve been there before. It’s part of the columnist’s job to stir up readers if the columnist is doing the job right and stating his perceptions forcefully and vividly.

    March 7th, 2014 2:33 pm

  17. htwaits

    I strongly objected to the way you presented the same argument in your previous post. I think it’s a valid argument when you present it in a straight forward way. The 49ers, if they follow their recent history, will do something similar. They will probably leave out the concept “make him”, and give Kaepernick two options. Play out your contract or accept the offer on the table – what ever that might be.

    There are other analysts that think that will not be a problem for Kaepernick who they think will bet on himself and play this year under his current contract.

    Me, I don’t have the foggiest idea which path is best for Kaepernick or for the 49ers. I do know that I appreciate the absence of personal attack in your analysis today. Thanks.

    March 7th, 2014 2:35 pm

  18. John

    Lowell, you state: “Am I not allowed to write that? It’s not assassination if it’s the truth.” It’s not universal “truth” that Kap is an unattractive human being, that’s the very definition of an opinion.

    Also, in my opinion, him asking for 18 – 20MM a year is in fact not breaking the bank. That is the same as Tony Romo and that market price was set a few years back. With the salary cap substantially increasing this year, an 18MM a year salary actually consumes less of the overall salary cap than it did with Romo. If Kap approached the deal as “a franchise QB should get X% of the salary cap” then his salary would easily be above 20M a year.

    I guess my overall dislike of the column was your assertion that he was bad person for asking for the money. That in order to validate himself as a teammate and leader he needed to take below market value. That’s where you completely lost me.

    March 7th, 2014 3:29 pm

  19. CohnZohn

    John, I am a columnist. I write opinions. I write truth the way I see it. You may not like my truth. Your prerogative. I did not criticize him for asking for a lot of money. I criticized him for saying he wouldn’t ask for an outlandish amount of money and then for asking for an outlandish amount of money. I feel that shows a lack of character and forthrightness, so i criticized his character. My prerogative.

    March 7th, 2014 3:42 pm

  20. htwaits

    Kathryn,

    The cap and the tag are part of the contract that the owners have agreed to with the players.

    No player’s contract is guaranteed. Unlike baseball, the NFL players can only get guaranteed money through up front bonus money. If for some reason the 49ers cut a player who is under contract they would, in most circumstances, owe them no money. In baseball the owners pay out the entire contract.

    The cap for “Kap” could be $20M in 2015 and at least $24M in 2016. Both amounts, for cap purposes would be fully charged against the 49er cap number for that year as salary.

    If Kaepernick was in a five year contract, the 49ers could allocate as much of that contract value as bonus money as they want to. An up front bonus of say $19M and a salary of $1M would result in a cap figure for the first year of one fifth of the bonus plus the $1M in salary. or something around $5M. The teams pay a lot of money for someone to get the most out of the loop holes in the contract.

    The 49er professional staff will look at all the variables and come up with their negotiation strategy. In blogs we will yell smart or dumb, or worse. Kaepernick’s staff, his agent is doing the same analysis.

    We send people to war all the time, and when my time came I was trained to walk out of Russia as part of the deal, and we pay them nothing for risking their lives. It’s service to our country. Football players risk their lives and health every time they step on the field, and they do it for our entertainment.

    Lowell Cohn has attacked Kaepernick for saying that he didn’t want to get a contract that would harm the 49ers. In Lowell’s mind a standard NFL negotiation is harmful to the 49ers, as if they had no say in the outcome.

    Lowell thinks his personal attack on Kaepernick is factual, and that Kaepernick is a childish hypocrite.

    March 7th, 2014 3:46 pm

  21. Stan

    Although I get you on the principles,etc…but football contracts are always negotiable..and unlike baseball its not guaranteed money right? Like Namdys huge contract that went up in flames in Phillie. In baseball..he would have been a Zito. A wealthy albatross.. a dead weight elephant tied to a franchises waist.
    But,on another level…boy,how many athletes best season was in the contract run..or almost best? Seasons I’m sure that went far better then the 7th year on the last contract they ever sign did.
    So,for fans…dangle the carrot all of 2014 in front of Kap. Even if it makes his mom really,really,mad.

    March 7th, 2014 4:03 pm

  22. htwaits

    A “lot of money” is OK. An “outlandish amount” of money is a major crime. The parties to the negotiation will or won’t decide, or they will or won’t punt. Such is the nature of NFL quarterback compensation.

    March 7th, 2014 4:08 pm

  23. MJ

    Sam, you are slightly misinformed. If the 49ers don’t sign him this offseason, yes, he will be a f/a next year, but the 49ers can franchise him before free agency starts and have him locked down for a price of the average of the top 5 qb salaries. If you think about it that they are paying him 900k this year, and next year the average of the top 5 might be 19, thats basically 20 million over 2 years. And if they AGAIN can’t get a contract, they can franchise him the following season. So basically the 49ers have Kaep here, guaranteed, for 3 seasons at what would be probably in the neighborhood of 41 million over the 3 seasons, or 13.3 million per year.

    March 7th, 2014 5:04 pm

  24. Cindy

    On the radio this morning Dan Patrick (whom I like) lit into you for that column saying it sure seemed like you had a personal vendetta against Kaepernick. He quoted pieces of your article and brought up very reasonable arguments point by point of why he thought you were ridiculous for what you said. He wondered if you were really serious or did someone from the 49ers front office ask you to write something negative about Kaepernick in order to bring him down a notch in his negotiations (ala what Tedy Bruschi did with Chad Ochocinco). Anyway, guess you are famous now.

    March 7th, 2014 5:20 pm

  25. Dr. Feelgood

    I understand Lowell’s points but approach it from strictly a business angle.
    Not negotiating a new contract with CK is the prudent path.
    Not because of what he he did or didn’t accomplish, nor because of what he can or cannot accomplish.
    Colin IS under contract AND under team control. This year at current salary, next year as “restricted free agent”, with the fifth year as “unrestricted”.
    Not a talent evaluator, still, it’s hard to envision CK becoming “worse”. For 2015 he’ll receive a sizable bump for the restricted year. 2016 the market will establish his worth and the Niners will decide what to do- IN 2016.
    Why would the team renegotiate now? The huge money saved this year, and lessser so in 2015, can be better spent on the immediate pressing needs.
    The really intriguing question is, even if CK becomes the new Steve Young, will Paraag and Baalke sacrifice the roster
    to meet his elevated demands in 2016.

    March 7th, 2014 5:20 pm

  26. Kathryn

    MJ

    Thank you, that’s how I see it.

    March 7th, 2014 5:55 pm

  27. Sam

    MJ, you missed my point. Putting a franchise tag on the QB is not a realistic option unless they want to give themselves little to no room to sign other players. Sure tag a safety like Goldson, it was only $6 million. But a QB will be likely $18+ million to tag next season, the 49ers cannot afford to take such a cap hit. Here’s Chicago’s GM talking about this subject as he discussed it when talking about Cutler:

    “The franchise tag for the quarterback position has unique challenges because the average comes out to be such a big portion of your cap and your total money available to spend on other players to acquire to help your team. With the franchise tag being so high for the quarterback position, to use it and not sign the individual to a long-term deal hurts the team because you lose the ability to prorate the amount of guaranteed salary over the length of the contract. Proration lowers the salary cap number in relation to that player’s contract. Obviously the lower the number in relation to the salary cap, the more players you can sign to help your team reach its goals.”

    March 7th, 2014 6:40 pm

  28. htwaits

    Sam,

    There are several people who either don’t understand how a tagged quarterback effects the cap, or how a multiyear contract can allow a team to manage the cap in a way that helps the team, or they just don’t care. In the later case it’s probably that they have a different agenda.

    No mater what the final outcome, the 49ers will do what they believe to be the best for their organization. The rest is twaddle. I love twaddle. It’s a great word.

    March 8th, 2014 12:26 am

  29. Selective Crane

    Whenever somebody makes a lot of money, Lowell Cohn gets a bee in his bonnet. He shredded Alex Smith for a while, but Alex Smith got a $50 million contract as a 20 year old who’d proven nothing.

    Kaepernick should get a 10 year contract this season worth $150 million with $50 million guaranteed. That would make him the richest ever contract in the league, but not on a yearly basis, and would give the Niners the ability to retain his rights for his entire career but only be on the hook to him at his asking price ($18 M per) for around 3 years.

    He deserves it. He’s a revolutionary player, his skills are growing, not deteriorating, and he’s actually a widely popular player and a positive role model for millions of youngsters. That he is short with the media during the season is of no consequence, unless you want to say it’s a positive because he doesn’t reveal team strategy.

    March 8th, 2014 6:44 am

  30. mendozaline

    ” I am a columnist. I write opinions. I write truth the way I see it.”
    This sounds as if it comes from an Orwellian world.

    Truth – from the OED “That which is true or in accordance with fact or reality:”

    Lowell Cohn – My opinion = That which is true or in accordance with fact or reality:

    March 8th, 2014 8:40 am

  31. Steve the cat rescuer

    I agree with all of your points and second MJ’s as well. Wonder how the faithful will rationalize the inability to sign other important position players if the 49ers give in to Kap’s fantasies. A salesman who can’t close a deal, regardless of whether he takes it to the brink, does not receive his commission.

    March 8th, 2014 10:30 am

  32. Bob In Portland

    Less now, more later, a lot more if he wins the Super Bowl. The rest is just a number.

    March 8th, 2014 10:45 am

  33. Stan

    Dan Patrick? pfffft. If it had been Olberman….

    March 8th, 2014 2:01 pm

  34. CohnZohn

    mendozaline, You have a very uninformed view of what constitutes the truth. I am surprised at you, but maybe I shouldn’t be. As you know, I studied the history of the English novel at Stanford and wrote a dissertation on Joseph Conrad. Modern English novelists like Conrad (born in Poland) and Henry James and Ford Madox Ford and James Joyce (Irish) and Virginia Woolf and, in America William Faulkner and F. Scott Fitzgerald all grappled with the slippery notion of truth. And all dramatized how difficult it is to know the real truth about a situation, about a person, about life. Stuff like that. Truth almost always involves, for example, how an individual sees something or analyzes something doing the best he/she can from a particular position at a particular moment. That is what I do four times a week in my column. I attempt to suggest the truth the way I see it. I feel, honestly, you should learn more about this topic before you lecture me or anyone about the nature of truth.

    March 8th, 2014 5:03 pm

  35. hacksaw

    Just because other teams are paying so-so quarterbacks crazy money doesn’t mean the 49ers have to. QB is a big position in the game, but look at the last several SB winners. Some have dominant QBs (Rogers, Brady, Brees), others have guys that are pretty good (Wilson, Flaco, E. Manning) but mainly won because their defenses were so good. If you have the same $ to spend as other teams ($133M), you win by spending it better. Have to get bargains where you can. Seahawks did that this year the absolute best by having stars on the rookie deals. So, you can fall into the crowd by trying to get a “franchise” qb and pay him $20M/yr, or you can look for a bargain there and spend elsewhere. That may sound crazy, but spending wisely is all about getting good value. A great QB is going to cost a ton, money that maybe is better spent on a crazy good defense. Keep drafting QBs with second round picks, give them one year to develop and save that money for stars around him.

    March 8th, 2014 8:59 pm

  36. Andrew Hutchinson

    That is truly hilarious. Lowell writes a hit Piece on Kapernick that is so obviously unfair that it is derided by National media all over the country and he counters by sneaking in his Bonefides. Well I didn’t go to Stanford but I can read between the lines to see a columnist expressing his personal bias. So Kaepernick isn’t pleasant to you in his interviews. Get over it.

    March 9th, 2014 8:58 am

  37. Streetglide

    I’ve smacked Lowell around a couple of times in the past, hard enough for him to say ouch. But some of you guys are as big a whiner as Colin his bad old self.

    I’ve read and reread the first and now this column. I don’t see anything mean spirited or overly harsh. Look, Colin is a d-i-c-k. He makes himself as unpleasant as possible. Has nothing to do with winning or losing. He’s a jerk, plain and simple.

    And the QB that beat him this season is far less gifted physically but emotionally, spiritually and just humanely he leaves Colin in the dust.

    Doesnt matter anyhow. Niners will have a new starting QB within three years.

    March 9th, 2014 11:42 am

  38. mendozaline

    Lowell, I find your reply to me rude and I choose not to reply to the substance of it. I try to be polite here. I recently quoted a comment you wrote on this blog about Joe Thornton and you indicated that you didn’t remember writing it. I simply posted the the link in response. I saw no need to reply in any other way.

    March 9th, 2014 2:38 pm

  39. CohnZohn

    mendozaline, I found your comment about truth snarky and uninformed. I addressed the uninformed part.

    March 9th, 2014 3:01 pm

  40. Dennis

    Lowell, I agree with mendozaline and his definition of the truth. Sorry, but your opinion is no more truthful than mine if neither is based in fact. In my world, your opinion (and mine) are not the truth until the facts back them up. Until the facts back up the opinion it is just someone talking.

    March 9th, 2014 3:44 pm

  41. CohnZohn

    Dennis, You should read my comment to mendozaline. Your grasp of “truth” is limited.

    March 9th, 2014 4:40 pm

  42. Brett

    Lowell, how do you compare Kaep’s “unatractive personality” with the media to Barry Bonds? Any comennalities?

    March 10th, 2014 2:55 pm

  43. CohnZohn

    Brett, Bonds was a different case altogether, rotten human being. I find Kap unattractive but I assume he is basically a good person.

    March 10th, 2014 3:32 pm

  44. Shane

    Mendozaline, that’s a pretty classic passive-aggressive tactic in the Internet age to challenge an op/ed writer with that kind of nonsense and then claim rudeness on his part when he challenges back. Funny how the folks who consistently apply these tactics hide behind anonymity.

    And seriously, who can make a case for Kaepernick’s personality, maturity or comportment as the face of the 49ers franchise? The media is our only chance to know him, and he’s treated all of his media appearances as a personal contest to see how many one-word replies and useless one-sentence replies he can give. This means among other things he places the team’s shared media burden on his teammates.

    Contrast this with Russell Wilson, a true face of a franchise. Wilson btw is the one who played the best game of his life in the biggest game and took home the Super Bowl.

    Fine and dandy for Kap to shun that responsibility, but then don’t lie to the world that you don’t want face of the franchise money and then go have your agents ask for it for you.

    And don’t expect seasoned columnists to not call you on it.

    Keep it up Lowell. and if you feel like it, how about a dissertation on the crucial role of a free press in a Democratic society …

    March 11th, 2014 11:54 am

  45. Shane

    PS- I don’t want to hear any of this crap about how these players shouldn’t have to talk to the media if they don’t want to. Media and TV and everything that comes with it is an integral part of the huge money machine that keeps the whole league going and buys new stadiums and pays the salaries of people like Colin Kaepernick. if he doesn’t like it he should go do something else.

    March 11th, 2014 11:58 am

  46. Nancy R

    Boston Cream Pie shows up again. Yippee! My laugh for the day.

    I like everything you say about Kap and the contract. I have said from the beginning the missing ingredient in him is humility.

    Everybody is acting like a bunch of sissies. Whaa Whaa Whaa poor Colin. Right. As he makes thousands of dollars listening with his headsets on TV ads. Let him strut his stuff to a superlative Super Bowl and then get the big bucks.

    You should feel honored that you have the power of the pen to get everybody so worked up!

    Vive le journalism audace et perspicace!

    March 13th, 2014 10:03 am

  47. Chris

    I agree with Lowell. Once again, Mr. Cohn is proving to be quite the prophet. Moreover, as I write this, Colin Kaepernick has once again caused a Miami firestorm with the media, this one with a suspicious and possible sexual assault allegations. Bottom line: we need to see how Kaep matures and improves. He won’t simply always be able to run away whenever his passes fall flat in the dirt. Meanwhile, let’s draft a QB that Harbaugh can begin grooming as a replacement.

    April 10th, 2014 1:27 pm

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