Editor’s note: Matt Maiocco is in Indianapolis to cover the NFL Combine. Check back for his comprehensive coverage and catch his nightly updates on SportsNet Central.
INDIANAPOLIS –- General manager Trent Baalke on Wednesday said there is nothing magical about the looming April 1 date, on which quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s base salary with the 49ers becomes fully guaranteed.
When asked if Kaepernick will be on the 49ers’ roster on April 1, Baalke did not leave much wiggle room.
“Yeah,” Baalke answered at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Kaepernick’s status with the 49ers has been in question since he was benched midway through last season. Kaepernick is scheduled to earn $11.9 million base salary in 2016, and Baalke said new coach Chip Kelly is excited about working with Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert.
“The No. 1 focus is getting him healthy,” Baalke said of Kaepernick. “Chip is excited to work with him, just as he’s excited to work with all of these guys. He doesn’t know these guys. I don’t think there’s anybody on our team that has come over from Philly, so he has no working knowledge of any of these guys. So he’s just as excited as anybody to get out there and get going.”
Baalke said he does not expect to take part in any talks this week with Kaepernick’s representatives at the combine. He said there is no agenda with any possible discussion the 49ers might have with Kaepernick’s agents.
There has been speculation that if Kelly did not envision Kaepernick as part of his offense, the 49ers could try to trade Kaepernick.
“Bottom line, all of these guys under contract are under contract and the expectation is to move forward with them,” Baalke said. “I can’t predict tomorrow with anybody. The expectation is he’s on our roster. I’ve stated that multiple times.”
[MAIOCCO: Surgeon: Kaepernick committed to being ready for 2016 season]
Kaepernick is rehabbing from shoulder, thumb and knee surgeries. His surgeon, Dr. Peter Millett, said Kaepernick is working hard toward being complete healthy for the 2016 season. The 49ers’ offseason program is set to begin on April 4. Baalke said Kaepernick will compete with Gabbert for his spot on the depth chart.
“Obviously, we have two quarterbacks now who have proven they can go into NFL games and play and play at a high level,” Baalke said. “There’s no working knowledge of either of these quarterbacks in respect to the new staff. All of these guys are going to be competing for their positions.”
Gabbert is scheduled to earn approximately $2 million in base pay this season. Baalke seemed to suggest the 49ers would not need to reduce Kaepernick's salary for him to remain with the organization, either. The 49ers are expected to have approximately $50 million in cap space even with Kaepernick's contract on the books.
When asked about the scenario of the team’s highest-paid player being a backup, Baalke said, “It wouldn’t be the first time in history. Let’s get these guys in here and let them go to work.”
Baalke said he is under the impression that Kaepernick is excited with the possibility of remaining with the 49ers and playing for Kelly. According to an NFL Network report this week Kaepernick is "more than open" to the idea of returning to the 49ers. Kaepernick remains under contract to the 49ers through the 2020 season.
“The last time we talked to Colin, Colin was excited,” Baalke said. “We’re going into the offseason program with a new coaching staff, very little familiarity with the guys on our team and these guys are excited to get their hands on these guys.”