SANTA CLARA, Calif. (CBS SF/AP) — If Colin Kaepernick is concerned about his future with the 49ers, the veteran quarterback certainly isn’t showing it. At least not publicly.
During an 8-minute conversation with reporters Tuesday, Kaepernick laughed and smiled while repeatedly deflecting questions about his status with the only NFL team he’s played for.
Instead, Kaepernick insisted over and over that his focus is solely on San Francisco’s season finale against division rival Seattle on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium.
“For us, looking ahead is Sunday,” Kaepernick said. “That’s where our focus is right now, that’s where all of our energy is going. We want to make sure we end this season right with a win and do everything this week to prepare for that.”
Kaepernick originally signed a $114 million, six-year contract with the 49ers in 2014, but restructured it down to a two-year deal this past October — one day after replacing Blaine Gabbert as San Francisco’s starting quarterback.
The new contract, much more franchise-friendly than the original deal, converting Kaepernick’s game bonuses into guaranteed money, includes a clause allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent in 2017.
That, coupled with rumors San Francisco’s front office is willing to move on from its 2011 second-round pick, has fueled speculation that Sunday’s game could be Kaepernick’s last in a 49ers uniform.
Kaepernick is adamant that none of that is on his mind, and at times sounded very much like a player preparing to stay in San Francisco in 2017.
“My focus is this week and making sure that I’m doing everything I can to prepare, and to try to help my teammates prepare this week to get a win,” Kaepernick said. “When you’re in a situation like this, how you finish the season can help set the foundation for next season. That’s what we have to be able to do this week, go out and get a win, leave on a positive note and have something to build on this offseason where we can improve and come into next season ready to roll.”
Kaepernick’s comments come 10 months after he requested to be traded. A much-talked about deal with Denver never materialized, and after multiple offseason surgeries, Kaepernick began the 2016 as Gabbert’s backup.
Since replacing Gabbert as the starter, Kaepernick has had varying degrees of success during this mostly dismal season for the 49ers. In 10 starts he has passed 15 touchdowns with four interceptions, 2,026 yards and an 88.2 rating despite a career-low 57.7 completion percentage.
However, Kaepernick is coming off one of his best games of the year after passing for 266 yards and two touchdowns during the 49ers’ come-from-behind 22-21 win over the Los Angeles Rams last week. Kaepernick also scored on a rushing touchdown and ran in the deciding 2-point conversion with 31 seconds remaining.
“It had been a long time since we had that feeling,” Kaepernick said. “I think this team sees what it’s capable of, and now we have that foundation to be able to build upon.”
Whether Kaepernick will be part of that foundation moving forward remains uncertain just three years after he was part of a franchise that went to three consecutive appearances in the NFC championship game. He is less than a year removed from having surgeries on his right thumb and left knee after previously undergoing a procedure to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder. He admittedly took some time to adjust to coach Chip Kelly’s offense.
“To me I feel like I’ve gotten more and more back to myself as weeks have gone, and gotten more comfortable in this offense,” Kaepernick said. “It has been a long time since I felt this good and just felt fluid on the field. For me that’s something I want to continue to be able to build on.
“It’s like any offense, you have to go out and execute. If you execute and do your job, offenses work. If you don’t do your job well, they don’t work.”
General manager Trent Baalke has remained mum on Kaepernick’s future and the sixth-year quarterback said he has had no discussions with the team’s front office regarding the topic.
NOTES: The 49ers placed running back Carlos Hyde on injured reserve after he suffered an MCL sprain in his left knee last week against the Rams. Hyde finishes the season with a career-high 988 rushing yards and nine touchdowns, three coming on receptions. Defensive lineman Zach Moore was claimed off waivers and takes Hyde’s roster spot.
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