INDIANAPOLIS – New San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan all but confirmed that quarterback Colin Kaepernick will opt out of his contract, and offered a pretty bleak assessment of the team’s depth at the position.
“Um, well I know that we don’t really have any under contract,” Shanahan told reporters at the NFL scouting combine Wednesday. “I know Kaepernick is, but seeing today that he’s probably going to opt out in a week or so, or whenever that is. We don’t have anybody on our roster, so I’m throwing everybody in that category of free agents, and possibilities going into the draft.
“Those are the guys that we’re comparing to who you’re seeing in the free agent market, and in the draft and in trade possibilities, and the guys who were on our roster last year – that’s really the group we’re picking from.”
NFL Network reported Wednesday that Kaepernick’s new agents, Sean Kiernan and Jeff Nalley, told all 32 teams that he would be opting out and testing the open market.
The other passers on San Francisco’s roster — Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponder and Thaddeus Lewis — are set to become free agents when the new league year begins March 9.
That means that the 49ers, who hold the No. 2 selection, could be interested in plucking a quarterback early in the NFL draft.
North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky, Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, and Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer are expected to be the first quarterbacks taken off the board, though Shanahan said he’s “not really there yet” in terms of having a comfortable grasp on the group.
“The tape is by far the most important,” Shanahan said. “You want to block everything else out. If you don’t like what you see on the tape, then nothing else matters. It’s a little backwards because we come to Indy first and get to know the guys a little better first.
"I wish we could do it differently, but there’s just not enough time. Here, I get to know them, I go back and watch the tape. And if you like the tape and you remember liking the guy, then you have to look into all the stuff that is very hard to find.”
When asked what the most important quality he looks for in young quarterbacks, Shanahan said “how quickly they process things,” something the 49ers are sure to test prospects here during interview sessions.