Lowell Cohn: Colin Kaepernick isn't worth big money right now

  • QB Colin Kaepernick throws on the run as the 49ers beat the Carolina Panthers 23-10 in Charlotte, Sunday Jan. 12, 2014. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2014

How much is Colin Kaepernick worth to the 49ers? In dollars and cents. Hard cash. Or as Charles Dickens used to call money, "the needful."

We are not talking Kaepernick's leadership (such as it is) or his grittiness or even his potential. We are not talking vague stuff coaches like to bring up -#8212; like he's a champ in the locker room and he's a winner. Blah. Blah.

How much is he worth? How much are the 49ers willing to spend on him given his talent, his production, his use to the team?

No sentiment allowed.

Point of fact: Kaepernick has one more year left on his contract, a bargain for the Niners. In 2013-2014 Kaepernick worked for a base salary of less than three-quarters of a million bucks. For you and me, that's big money. For the quarterback of the 49ers it's "bupkis," Yiddish for "absolutely nothing." The word derives from "beans," and that's what the 49ers pay Kaepernick. Beans -#8212; kidney, garbanzo, pinto.

Does he go from beans to gold nuggets? Well, not so fast.

Here's the deal. The 49ers could sign Kaepernick to a contract extension before next season. That would make Kaepernick happy -#8212; depending on the numbers. And I -#8212; with no stake in the operation, no beans in the pot -#8212; say, sure, give him an extension.

How much?

Not as much as you'd think.

The Bears recently awarded Jay Cutler more than $120 million for seven years. And before this about-to-be-concluded season, the Ravens gave Joe Flacco about $120 million for six years after he won the Super Bowl -#8212; he was the Super Bowl MVP. The Ravens held off on extending Flacco before that and ended up paying through the nose, not that I've ever seen anyone pay through the nose or have any idea how you do that.

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