Jim Harbaugh backed up his flowery words of praise.
The San Francisco 49ers coach wanted his starting quarterback to stick around with another contract and the ongoing offseason negotiations between player and team concluded on Wednesday.
“Colin’s hard work and dedication have played an integral role in the recent success of the 49ers organization,” general manager Trent Baalke said in a team-issued press release. “His work ethic, leadership and on-field production have positively influenced our team, and we look forward to his continued growth in all areas.
Harbaugh, like Baalke, maintained all offseason that he wanted to see his fourth-year passer sign a new deal prior to the ’14 campaign.
“I’m a big proponent of Colin Kaepernick, his abilities,” the coach said on May 28. “On record as stating that I would like to see that happen. It’s a process. I know you’ve heard me use that word before in many other ways. But, that is not like some of the other examples. There’s a process in place. And it’ll play out.”
The process played out positively for both sides.
Kaepernick, the former second-round draft pick in ’11 who led the franchise to a Super Bowl appearance and NFC Championship game over the past two seasons, now has the financial security of a tenured NFL superstar. He also has the peace of mind of knowing the 49ers are committed to his long-term success in pro football.
On the flipside, San Francisco has identified a premiere dual-threat athlete who can run diverse offensive schemes. Kaepernick rushed for 524 yards and tossed 21 touchdown passes last season, making him the first 49ers quarterback to throw 20 touchdowns in a season since Jeff Garcia did it in ’02.
The 26-year-old has also rushed for 507 yards and four touchdowns on 51 rushing attempts in the playoffs. Kaepernick’s 507 rushing yards ranks second among all quarterbacks in NFL postseason history, trailing Hall of Fame 49ers quarterback Steve Young’s 594 yards.
Kaepernick is poised for more postseason runs after leading San Francisco to back-to-back road playoff wins last season. He became the fourth quarterback in NFL history to win each of his first three road playoff starts.
Harbaugh expects Kaepernick to “breakout” even further in the upcoming season.
“He’s very gifted and he always has been,” the coach said of the first offensive player he ever drafted in the NFL. “I’m really excited about everything about his game right now.”
“I think we have a lot of weapons at that position that we can use in a lot of different situations,” Kaepernick said last week after an OTA session in Santa Clara.
The 49ers quarterback has used the offseason to build rapport with his new receivers. With a new contract taken care of, Kaepernick can focus on his future on the field.