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John Lynch: 49ers would have cut Kaepernick if he hadn’t opted out

49ers GM John Lynch apologizes to Colin Kaepernick for contributing to a false narrative and explains why the quarterback is no longer in San Francisco.

One of the popular narratives regarding Colin Kaepernick’s lingering unemployment is that he has only himself to blame after opting out of his 49ers contract. This flawed assumption overlooks the fact that the 49ers would have cut Kaepernick if he hadn’t opted out.

“HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT?!?!?” some of you have said in response. Here’s how. 49ers G.M. John Lynch said so on Wednesday, in a PFT Live interview to be aired later this week.

“Yes,” Lynch said regarding whether Kaepernick would have been cut if he hadn’t opted out, “and we had that conversation with him. So I don’t want to characterize it as he made a decision to leave here. We both sat down and under that current construct of his deal, it was a big number. [Coach] Kyle [Shanahan] had a vision for what he wanted to do, and one thing I think Kyle was very clear and I think Colin appreciated, is that Kyle has an idea of how he’d play with Colin Kaepernick. But he preferred to run the exact offense that he ran in Atlanta last year that was record-breaking in this league. And if you change it for the quarterback, you change it for everybody on that offense. So he had a great discussion that I think gave Colin clarity, so we moved on. Brian Hoyer was one of the guys we pursued. Once we pursued him, we didn’t see Kaep as a backup that would really fit in that scheme and we communicated that to him. So I think we’ve been very up front with it. But I think that is a fair characterization. Yes, he was not going to be here under the construct of his contract. We gave him the option, ‘You can opt out, we can release you, whatever.’ And he chose to opt out, but that was just a formality.”

Lynch also addressed the perception/accusation that the 49ers have been spreading negative information about Kaepernick, pointing to the decision to invite Peter King of into the team’s draft room.

“Part of the narrative that was created -- you know how it works, headlines coming out of quotes -- was that Colin didn’t have an interest playing football,” Lynch said in reference to a claim from King citing unnamed 49ers sources regarding whether Kaepernick is fully committed to his craft. “I feel like that’s part of my job is controlling what comes out of this building, and to the extent that there was a perception that we were contributing to that Colin didn’t want to play football, we wanted to put an end to that.

“I’ve talked with Colin and I’ve told him that I felt bad that if indeed that is contributing to that thought. The one thing that I knew from sitting with Colin when we had our opportunity to sit down and he ultimately opted out, we had a great discussion that stuck out with me that this is a guy who is really interested in getting back in this league and playing at the highest level. And I’ve talked to him since, and that very much is the case.”

Lynch punctuated his explanation with an apology to Kaepernick, and a reiteration of the perception that Kaepernick wants to play.

“I want to put that to rest,” Lynch said. “I’m sorry that this came out of this building. That’s one of the challenges that I’m finding is controlling the message that comes out of your building. There’s so many people, and it’s hard to find because, ‘Sources this, sources that.’ I didn’t feel good about that and I’ve talked to Colin. That was what was most important to me, to talk to Colin directly and let him know that I was sorry that that did [come out] and that nothing else like that will come out of this building if I have anything to do with it. That’s where that is. We wish Colin the best and I can tell everybody out there he very much is sincere in his interest to get back in this league, and I hope it works out for him.”

The full 24-minute discussion with Lynch will eventually be posted here. Much of it will be aired on Friday, as part of the three-hour weekday PFT Live show.