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49ers get rid of Colin Kaepernick's injury clause days before he starts at QB again

The team eliminated Kaepernick's $14.5 million injury guarantee for 2017.

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

When the San Francisco 49ers announced Tuesday that Colin Kaepernick would be their starting quarterback this week, the next shoe to drop was news about his contract getting restructured. That's what happened Wednesday.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter and Adam Caplan, the 49ers and Kaepernick have decided to get rid of the final four years of his deal to turn it into a one-year contract with a player option for 2017. This eliminates $14.5 million in injury guarantees for next season, meaning the 49ers can play Kaepernick without the fear of paying him if he gets hurt. It also allows the QB to move on once the season ends, since the 49ers won't be able to franchise him. Though the monetary value of the contract hasn't been announced yet, it appears to be a win-win for both sides.

When head coach Chip Kelly was asked bout Kaepernick Tuesday, he said he thinks the move gives the team the best chance to win. "We need to improve on the offensive side of the ball, and this is the decision we’ve made," he said.

It's been a turbulent couple of years for Kaepernick, who's been in the headlines all season due to his ongoing protest during the national anthem. He's opted to kneel during the "Star-Spangled Banner" to point out police brutality toward African-Americans. Kelly added Tuesday that he doesn't foresee Kaepernick's protest becoming an issue now that he's the starter. "It has not been an issue and I think of how Colin has handled it, he handled it very straightforward with our players when it first came about way back when in August," he said.

The 49ers have reportedly been working on restructuring Kaepernick's contract for months. The framework of a trade with the Denver Broncos was supposedly in place this offseason, but Denver balked at picking up the entirety of Kaepernick's deal. He's spent the first five weeks of the season as the No. 2 quarterback behind Blaine Gabbert, who's predictably been terrible.

Kaepernick, 28, took over as quarterback midway through the 2012 campaign, closing out the season with a 5-2 record and leading the 49ers to a Super Bowl berth. San Francisco discarded Alex Smith the following spring and gave Kaepernick the job in 2013. His dynamic speed and strong arm led the team to a 12-4 record and allowed it to grab one of the NFC's wild card spots. The 49ers fell to the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Championship.

Since then, Kaepernick's performance has steadily declined. He's gone 3-10 in his last 13 starts and hasn't started a game since Week 8 of the 2015 season. Considering Gabbert threw for just 162 yards and two interceptions against Arizona last Thursday, the bar for Kaepernick isn't all that high.