INDIANAPOLIS – The 49ers’ organization has gotten a fresh start with a new coach and a new general manager.
And the team’s decision-makers are also starting with a new set of eyes to chart the course for the team’s future at quarterback.
“I won’t close any door,” Shanahan said of the possibility of re-signing Colin Kaepernick, who is expected to opt out of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent.
“We’re going to look for who we think gives us the best chance to win and who can help us the most. Kap is one of those guys that’s available.”
Kaepernick’s decision to become an unrestricted free agent is a formality that will not force the 49ers to release him in order to avoid his scheduled $14.9 million pay for the 2017 season.
“There had to be a decision made on Kap, and mainly he made that decision,” Shanahan said Wednesday at the NFL Scouting Combine. “If he wouldn’t have, we would’ve had to make a decision. But by that happening, it throws him into the boat with everyone else. It’s not that you’re deciding to part ways or not, he decided to do that. It throws him into the boat everybody else is in, which makes it easy for us.
“We don’t have an attachment to Kap. We look at him just like all the other guys that I’m looking at. It was good to get to meet him, talk to him, but besides that, we’re looking at him on film like everybody else.”
Kaepernick met last week with Shanahan and general manager John Lynch at team headquarters in Santa Clara. During that conversation, Kaepernick intimated he would opt out of his contract, Shanahan said. The 49ers told Kaepernick he would be evaluated like all the other quarterback options this offseason.
“We told him straight up, we’re throwing you into the pool with all the other guys,” Shanahan said. “We have to evaluate all the free agents, the trade possibilities and the draft, and whatever we think the best scenario is the way we’re going to go. But Kap’s in that. He’s involved in that. Just like anybody else."
Kaepernick started 11 games for the 49ers last season and posted his best statistical season since 2013. Kaepernick completed 59.2 percent of his pass attempts with 16 touchdowns, four interceptions and a passer rating of 90.7. He also rushed for 468 yards.
Shanahan said there are no issues with designing an offense that accentuates Kaepernick’s strengths.
“What Kap did to go to the Super Bowl, he ran similar offense to what we did in 2012,” Shanahan said, referring to the Washington offense during Robert Griffin's rookie season. “I think that’s the kind of stuff that gives him the best chance to be successful.
“You’ll adjust to anybody. Would I do the exact same stuff I’ve done in Atlanta? That’s different than what I’ve done for other people. So it’s going to always change. But with Kap’s skillset, if he was your guy, you’d adjust to him.”
The 49ers have discussed all the quarterback options, including trades, Shanahan said. Washington’s Kirk Cousins and New England’s Jimmy Garoppolo might not be available in trades. Even if they were, the price would be exorbitant.
But if the 49ers were to wait a season, it’s possible they could be available as free agents and the 49ers would not have to surrender draft picks.
“All that comes into play,” Shanahan said. “Yes, you have targets of people you want, but you have to be smart and value your initial needs with the organizational needs in the immediate future and the long haul. You’re always thinking about how to win now, but that can never be at the expense of the future, too.”
While the 49ers feel urgency to fill their need at quarterback, Shanahan said the decision must be calculated to provide the best long-term results for the organization. Both Shanahan and general manager John Lynch are on six-year contracts, which implies there will be patience to allow them to build.
“I’m very eager,” Shanahan said. “We’re all very eager. But it’s important, coming here, we’re also going to make the right decision. We’re not going to do something just because we’re eager. Everybody wants your quarterback and you want to not have to worry about that. But you also have to make sure the guy that you want is there. A lot of bad decisions are made by people who are just eager.
“John and myself came here and we knew we could make decisions might not always be the flashiest, but we truly think it’s best for our organization. That’s how you stay out of trouble.”