49ers

Settlement amounts, NFL compensating Colin Kaepernick for not playing football

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AP

Settlement amounts, NFL compensating Colin Kaepernick for not playing football

The 49ers paid Colin Kaepernick more than $43 million during his six-year career.

Presumably, the NFL is giving him one final large sum of money to not play football.

The NFL’s settlement with Kaepernick and former 49ers safety Eric Reid prevents the collusion grievances and the gathered evidence from ever being heard. How much was that worth to the NFL? Terms of the resolution announced Friday contain a confidentiality agreement, so we’ll likely never know.

Kaepernick originally sat on the team bench during the playing of the national anthem during the summer of 2016 as a protest against racial inequality and oppression against minorities, he said. After consulting with former Green Beret Nate Boyer, he and Reid decided to kneel. The protest immediately became one of the nation's biggest storylines -- and not just in sports, either. Many players on other teams joined the movement, which gained more momentum and attention a full year later when President Donald Trump addressed the issue during a political rally in Alabama.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’ ” Trump said.

Although Reid was just as outspoken every step of the way, his football career resumed. He played in 2017, the final year of his contract, with the 49ers. And after a slow free-agent market last year, Reid signed a one-year deal with the Carolina Panthers in late September.

Reid’s play in the final 13 games of the season prompted the Panthers to sign him last week to a three-year contract extension worth more than $21 million.

Kaepernick’s football days came to a halt in what should have been the prime of his career.

Kaepernick, now 31, has not found employment since completing 17 of 22 passes for 215 yards and a 122.3 rating in a 25-23 loss to the Seattle Seahawks at Levi’s Stadium on Jan. 1, 2017.

He opted out of his contract, which was scheduled to pay him $14.9 million in salary and bonuses, in March 2017. General manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan, who had been hired just a month earlier, already had met with Kaepernick and told him that if he did not opt out, he would be released.

The 49ers never seriously considered having Kaepernick on the team in 2017 because he was not considered a fit for the team’s offensive system, Shanahan said.

Instead, the 49ers signed quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley on the first day of free agency. They also drafted C.J. Beathard and signed undrafted rookie Nick Mullens. The 49ers later added Jimmy Garoppolo in a trade with the New England Patriots in the middle of that first season without Kaepernick.

Based on his production alone, Kaepernick should have signed with some team. He ranks tied for No. 2 all-time with Tom Brady and behind Aaron Rodgers in interception percentage at 1.8.

Kaepernick’s career consisted of 58 starts in the 71 games since he took over for Alex Smith during the 2012 season. In Kaepernick’s first season as the starter, the 49ers advanced to the Super Bowl, as he posted a 98.3 passer rating in seven starts. He rushed for an NFL quarterback-record 181 yards against the Green Bay Packers in his first playoff start.

Kaepernick’s best full season as a starter was 2013 when he threw a career-best 21 touchdown passes with eight interceptions for a 91.6 passer rating.

The 49ers went 21-8 in Kaepernick’s first two seasons as the starter, including a playoff record of 4-2. In his final season with the 49ers, they went 1-10 in games he started.

Surely, Kaepernick’s style of play wasn’t a fit for some coaches. Also, it is fair to surmise, his form of peaceful protest did not fit the styles of many other owners.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell addressed Kaepernick’s seemingly permanent free agent status two weeks before the settlement during his press conference in Atlanta for Super Bowl 53.

“I think if a team decides that Colin Kaepernick or any other player can help their team win, that’s what they’ll do,” Goodell said. “They want to win and they make those decisions individually in the best interest of their club.”

The NFL made the decision to settle the grievance because it was in the best interest of its clubs. After Kaepernick filed his collusion grievance in October 2017, some notable NFL names were deposed, including, reportedly, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, Patriots owner Bob Kraft, Texans owner Bob McNair, Broncos general manager John Elway, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and Ravens coach John Harbaugh.

It also is safe to assume members of the 49ers organization were included in the evidence gathering, as individuals associated with the NFL and linked to Kaepernick were required to turn over emails and text messages.

What those interviews and electronic messages disclosed likely factored into the NFL's willingness to negotiate a settlement. Was there anything that pointed to outright collusion? There's no telling. But the NFL had its reasons for keeping private communication private.

And around the time, Kaepernick filed his grievance, the New York Post reported he had signed a $1 million book deal with Random House.

[RELATED: Settlement doesn't mean Kap will play again]

Kaepernick came through with his promise of $1 million to community charities to advance his goal of empowering individuals in under-served communities in 2016 and '17. He continues to work toward his originally stated goal of helping those whose voices are not heard.

Nothing has changed there.

But the settlement announced Friday appears to block the possibility of Kaepernick publishing a tell-all book. And, clearly, the NFL concluded that was worth the cost of one final paycheck.

49ers' George Kittle rated as top tight end in NFL, per Sporting News

49ers' George Kittle rated as top tight end in NFL, per Sporting News

Who is the best tight end in the NFL?

Well, believe it or not, 49ers GM John Lynch isn't 100 percent confident saying George Kittle deserves that title.

Nevertheless, Sporting News declared the 25-year-old is the best guy in the league at the position -- and there is plenty to back up that statement.

Last season, the Iowa product set the 49ers franchise record for receiving yards by a tight end in a single season with 1,377. He also averaged 15.6 yards per catch, which Sporting News' Vinnie Iyer dubbed as "ridiculous." And he's not wrong. 

Kittle should benefit even more from a full season with Jimmy Garoppolo, who also will have new pass-catching weapons Deebo Samuel, Jalen Hurd and Jordan Matthews at his disposal. 

[RELATED: 49ers considered Ward's injury history with one-year deal]

Kittle finished his 2018 campaign with 88 receptions, five touchdowns, and well, you know the yardage.

49ers considered Jimmie Ward's injury history with one-year contract

49ers considered Jimmie Ward's injury history with one-year contract

The 49ers carefully considered the risks.

And, ultimately, they came up with a one-year, prove-it contract offer that led to versatile and hard-charging defensive back Jimmie Ward remaining with the 49ers for the start of his sixth NFL season.

“It’s not an easy answer, because there’s a long (injury) history,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said at the NFL Scouting Combine in February. “But there’s also a very, very talented football player who I would tell you grew into a really special leader.”

Said coach Kyle Shanahan, “I love Jimmie Ward. . . . We all know he’s struggled a little bit to stay healthy. But he’s a guy, as a person, I’ll go to war with every day. I really trust and believe in, and I love him as a player, too.”

Ward missed 29 games through his first five seasons in the league.

Ward sustained a fractured collarbone while diving for a ball in a non-padded practice during organized team activities on Thursday in Santa Clara. He will undergo surgery, and the 49ers expect him to be out of action for eight to 12 weeks.

Eight weeks would place Ward as healthy a full week before the start of training camp. With a 12-week recovery (Aug. 16), the 49ers will have played one exhibition game with the second game coming up on Monday, Aug. 19, against the Denver Broncos.

Ward has now sustained broken bones in five of his six NFL seasons. The first four fractures came during the regular season and landed him on season-ending injured reserve lists.

Here is the rundown of Ward’s injury history since completing his college career at Northern Illinois:

2014

When Ward showed up at the combine, he was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his right foot and was not allowed to take part in any on-field testing. The injury came as a surprise to Ward, who had not experienced any pain. He felt healthy enough to run several weeks later at this pro day, where he was timed at 4.45 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

Ward underwent surgery in March to repair the Jones fracture in the fifth metatarsal of his foot, and the 49ers drafted him with the No. 30 overall pick in the draft.

He did not take part in the offseason program as a rookie, but he appeared in each of the team's exhibition games that summer.

Ward was not active for the Week 7 game against Denver due to a quadriceps injury.

In Week 10, while making a tackle against New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham, the screw bent from his March surgery in his right foot and fifth metatarsal broke again. He finished the game, but a new, larger screw had to be inserted. He was placed on injured reserve.

Games missed: 8

2015

Ward appeared on the injury report just once all season. He was listed as probable for the 49ers’ Week 15 game against Cincinnati with an elbow condition, and he played well. As the team’s nickel back, he had six tackles, a sack, two tackles for losses, and a pass defensed.

Games missed: 0

2016

Ward sustained a non-contact left quadriceps injury in Week 3 while running down the field to cover a kickoff against Seattle. He missed three games due to the injury.

In Week 11, Ward was diagnosed with a concussion, but he returned to play the following week against Miami.

In Week 15, Ward sustained a fractured right collarbone when he landed hard upon tackling Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Aldrick Robinson down the field. He was placed on injured reserve.

Games missed: 5

2017

Ward sustained a left hamstring injury in the conditioning test at the start of training camp in late-July. In late-August, he was activated off the physically-unable-to-perform list. He did not play in the preseason, and he sat out the season opener against Carolina.

While playing free safety, he fractured his left forearm in Week 8 while tackling Philadelphia tight end Trey Burton. He was placed on season-ending injured reserve.

Games missed: 9

2018

Ward missed extended time in the 49ers’ offseason program due to an ankle injury. He was bothered by a hamstring injury during training camp and left the team’s Week 3 exhibition game against Indianapolis after playing just two snaps on special teams

Ward, who was starting at cornerback, left the 49ers’ Week 6 game against Green Bay with a hamstring injury. He missed the following game against the Los Angeles Rams.

Upon moving to free safety, Ward sustained a fractured left forearm – but in a different place than a year earlier – while tackling Tampa Bay’s 225-pound running back Peyton Barber in Week 12.

The 49ers had evaluated Ward as playing better than anyone in their secondary at the time of the injury.

After the game, Ward said his injuries can be attributed to how hard he plays.

“I play physical,” Ward said. “I don’t know no other way but to play. When I’m at corner, I’m physical. Nickel, physical. Safety, physical. I’m just a tough bird.

“When it happens, it happens. I’ve been here before. I’m just going to grind and get back.”

He was placed on season-ending injured reserve.

Games missed: 7

2019

The 49ers re-signed Ward to a guaranteed one-year, $3 million contract in March. He can earn an additional $1.5 million in per-game roster bonuses.

[RELATED: Bosa to miss a few weeks of practice with hamstring injury]

The club expects Ward, if healthy, to start at free safety this season. And it was clear during an open practice on Tuesday, that his style of play is every bit as aggressive as ever. While covering rookie wide receiver Deebo Samuel, Ward got physical and flung Samuel to the ground in a drill designed to be non-contact.

Ward sustained a fractured collarbone in the team’s next practice. Adrian Colbert will take over as the 49ers' first-team free safety for the remainder of the offseason program, which concludes June 13.