49ers

Key factors that will determine where Kaepernick plays in 2017

Key factors that will determine where Kaepernick plays in 2017

CHICAGO – Quarterback Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers got what they wanted from a restructured contract the sides negotiated in October.

Kaepernick is allowed to opt out of his contract after this season. And the 49ers are not financially obligated to pay his 2017 salary if he sustains an injury that lingers past April 1.

Kaepernick, who requested permission to seek a trade, was always expected to opt out and become an unrestricted free agent after the season. Even if he did not opt out, the 49ers would be expected to release him, anyway.

“Organizations at the end of the season go through and evaluate personnel and opportunities,” Kaepernick explained in June why he asked for permission to seek a trade. “That was something, I sat down with my team and did the same thing. That’s how we handled the business.”

The NFL Network on Sunday reported what had been known all along: Kaepernick plans to opt out the contract at the end of the season.

But this move – or if the 49ers release Kaepernick – does not rule out his return to the 49ers in 2017.

There are several unknown factors that will determine where Kaepernick plays next season:

--What will the market be for Kaepernick?

The 49ers and Denver Broncos had a deal worked out for Kaepernick last offseason. But the Broncos would only follow-through if Kaepernick agreed to take his guaranteed salary of $11.9 million down to $7 million annually over the next two years.

It’s likely the Broncos will no longer be interested. If they go after a veteran quarterback, Tony Romo would be expected to top the list. There are teams that likely will need a quarterback, such as Cleveland, Chicago and the New York Jets.

But it’s not known if ownership in those cities will step in over concerns about upsetting the team’s fan base with the acquisition of Kaepernick, who has been the NFL's most-polarizing figure this season due to his decision to protest racial inequality by kneeling during the national anthem.

--Over the past four games, Kaepernick is playing at a level that would suggests he should be a starter in the NFL next season. If it’s just a football decision, he would either be competing for a starting job or – at the very least – be a top backup.

There is a lot of instability with the 49ers. If general manager Trent Baalke is back with the 49ers, it seems unlikely Kaepernick would want to come back.

Kaepernick's dissatisfaction with the 49ers last year led to him seeking a way out. He thought his team-friendly contract, which was low on guaranteed money, would allow the 49ers to keep the nucleus on their roster intact. Instead, the roster was overhauled.

Also, there were reports last year, which Kaepernick’s camp believe the 49ers leaked, that he wore his headphones around the team facility and closed himself off to teammates and did not spend as much time watching film as Blaine Gabbert.

--But if Baalke is fired at the end of the season and coach Chip Kelly is retained, it very well could be that the best place for Kaepernick will be back with the 49ers to establish some continuity.

Kelly said this week that he has not gotten involved in any of the contract discussions with Kaepernick, who recently placed his San Jose house on the market.

“I don’t deal with contracts,” Kelly said. “So, that wasn’t an issue. As I’ve said with everything, even the stuff when we first got there is when he’s with us it’s all football. If there’s a business thing. That’s between him and his agent and the front office. But that’s not something that we’ve ever had a discussion about.”

It appears Kelly and Kaepernick have a solid relationship. Kaepernick appears more comfortable running a system that accentuates his skillset.

“The relationship we have is great,” Kelly said. “We talk football and I really enjoy coaching him. He works extremely hard. He really wants to be great and works at it from that standpoint. So all that other stuff, I think he does a really good job of leaving that outside the door and we never really discuss it because that’s really not what our relationship is about.”

Fantasy football waiver wire: Target Calvin Ridley in Week 4

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Fantasy football waiver wire: Target Calvin Ridley in Week 4

It was a bad week for injuries in fantasy football. 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo's season appears to be over after a knee injury, while top options like Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green (groin) and Giants tight end Evan Engram (knee) left their respective games with injuries.

Then again, it's never a good week for fantasy football injuries. Thus, it's always important to stay on top of the waiver wire, and keep your team ready in the inevitable event that injuries strike. To that end, here's who you should target going into Week 4. 

Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins QB (Owned in 7.8 percent of ESPN leagues)

Tannehill continued to improve in Week 3. He threw for 289 yards and three touchdown passes, and added 26 more yards on the ground. He faces a tough task in New England against the Patriots in Week 4, but there's hope for the Dolphins signal-caller.

While Tannehill is winless in five starts at New England, the Patriots have been porous against opposing fantasy QBs this season. Plus, the Texas A&M product has thrown for over 300 yards in each of his last three starts in Foxboro. Give Tannehill a look, especially if you need Jimmy Garoppolo insurance. 

Calvin Ridley, Atlanta Falcons WR (40.8 percent of ESPN leagues)

Let's get this out of the way: It's unlikely the rookie will haul in seven catches for nearly 150 yards, plus three touchdowns, every week from now on. But, the No. 26 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft has arrived as a legitimate fantasy option. 

He was targeted eight times on Sunday, surpassing Julio Jones as Matt Ryan's favorite target against the Saints. Ridley will have a favorable matchup, too, against a Bengals defense that has given up two receiving touchdowns each week. There will be downs, but the potential for ups like his monster performance Sunday make Ridley a must-target.

Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals WR (23.7 percent of ESPN leagues)

Boyd caught a touchdown for the second straight game in Week 3, and crossed the 100-yard threshold for the first time in 2018. He was targeted seven times, tying for fourth on the team. That doesn't sound like a lot, but Boyd is likely in line for mroe looks. 

With Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis unsure if A.J. Green (groin) will play in Week 4, Boyd could become Andy Dalton's most-targeted wide receiver. He's got plenty of big-play ability, too, so you should make the third-year pro a priority on the waiver wire this week.

Mike Williams, Los Angeles Chargers WR (33 percent of ESPN leagues) 

Williams caught four passes for 81 yards and two touchdowns against the Rams Sunday, leading the Chargers in targets (seven) just one week after he was only targeted twice. But, Williams has now caught touchdowns in back-to-back games, and has scored double-digit points in standard PPR leagues every week. 

Even if the 23-year-old can't reach the ceiling of his Week 3 breakout, he still has a decent floor. Williams will have a good opportunity to keep it up in Week 4 against a 49ers defense that's given up at least 300 passing yards each of the last two weeks.

49ers report card: Grades on offense, defense in 38-27 loss to Chiefs

49ers report card: Grades on offense, defense in 38-27 loss to Chiefs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Things couldn't have gone much worse for the 49ers in their 38-27 loss to the Chiefs on Sunday.

But the most devastating moment occurred late in the game when quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo went down with what the team believes is a torn ACL in his left knee. He is scheduled for an MRI on Monday to confirm the season-ending diagnosis.

Here is a look at this week’s 49ers grades:

Rushing offense

Matt Breida and Alfred Morris again proved to be a good 1-2 punch, as both players enjoyed productive days. Breida followed his 138-yard performance against Detroit with a 90-yard day against Kansas City -- and he did his damage on just 10 rushing attempts. Morris gained 67 yards on 14 carries.

The offensive line did a good job of creating holes and cut-back lanes for the backs.

Grade: A

Passing offense

There were a couple of dropped passes, and Garoppolo missed a couple of throws, but the passing game still had a statistically productive day. Garoppolo completed 20 of 30 passes for 251 yards, with TD throws to Kyle Juszczyk and Marquise Goodwin. The 49ers struggled with the silent count, though, as the Chiefs' defensive front seemed to often beat the offensive line off the ball. Right tackle Mike McGlinchey gave up back-to-back sacks in the fourth quarter.

The 49ers also weren't very good on third downs, converting just two of nine opportunities.

Grade: B-minus

Rushing Defense

There still were way too many missed tackles, but overall, the 49ers’ run defense was very good. Kareem Hunt averaged just 2.4 yards per rushing attempt, as he gained 44 yards on 18 carries. However, the 49ers' run defense allowed Patrick Mahomes to convert a fourth down with a 2-yard run on the first drive of the game, and Hunt scored untouched on 1-yard runs in the first quarter. After that, the 49ers did a good job of controlling the line of scrimmage in the run game, allowing inside linebackers Fred Warner and Reuben Foster to combine for 18 tackles.

Grade: B-plus

Passing Defense

The 49ers have plenty of excuses with all of their injuries in the defensive backfield, but we grade performances here and don't soften the grade when starters are out of the lineup.

The pass rush wasn't very good, and Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was able to pick apart the 49ers' defense for 314 yards and three TDs. Tight end Travis Kelce caught eight of the 10 passes thrown his way for 114 yards. Cornerback Richard Sherman left the game near the end of the first half with a calf injury. But even before that, the 49ers’ secondary wasn't playing with confidence.

Grade: F

Special Teams

The 49ers’ strategy was simple: Punt the ball away from Tyreek Hill. Some of Bradley Pinion’s punts sailed out of bounds well shy of the intended mark. Hill returned just one of four punts and managed only 5 yards. Pinion’s net average was 35.8 yards. Conversely, Kansas City punter Dustin Colquitt produced a 43.0 net average. Robbie Gould made two field goals but also missed an extra point.

Grade: D

Overall

The 49ers made a second-half push to sort-of, kind-of get back in the game. But there simply was no coming back from a 35-7 deficit after the Chiefs scored touchdowns on each of their five first-half offensive possessions. Not only did Mahomes lead the Chiefs into the end zone every time they touched the ball in the first half, they made it look absurdly easy. The Chiefs took their foot off the gas with the big lead, and the 49ers made the final score respectable.

But the worst part of this game for the 49ers wasn't the 11-point loss. It was the many injuries they endured along the way.

Grade: D

MORE ON THE 49ERS

Shanahan, 49ers confident in Beathard as QB

Niners deal with emotion of losing their leader

Some fans calling for Kaepernick’s return

Shanahan said he's happy with QBs already on the team

Ratto: “Next man up” is a hard pill to swallow

Richard Sherman scheduled for MRI on calf area