While the team previously has acknowledged that signing the quarterback is a top priority, general manager Trent Baalke for the first time Tuesday put a timeline on its goals of locking up Kaepernick with a new deal.
Baalke told reporters at the NFL owners meetings in Orlando, Fla., that the 49ers would like to get the deal done before training camp starts in late July. This is significant because it means the team has seen enough of Kaepernick, a second-round pick in 2011, to believe he is its future at the position.
"We're going to work extremely hard, very diligently in trying to get something done prior to training camp. That's the objective right now, as it stands," Baalke said, according to Comcast Sports Net Bay Area.
Kaepernick is 21-8 as an NFL starter. He has led the 49ers to two NFC title games and one Super Bowl in less than two full seasons as a starter.
"I think there's a lot that he's done that has put him in that position where he should be paid like one of the top quarterbacks in the league," 49ers CEO Jed York said, according to Comcast Sports Net Bay Area. "And I think that's where we'll end up -- whether we get it done now or later. We hope we get it done soon. If we don't, I don't think it's going to be acrimonious."
The 49ers have had preliminary talks with Kaepernick's agent. The QB is set to make a little more than $1 million in 2014. His new backup, Blaine Gabbert, will make about twice as much.
Kaepernick likely will command a contract that averages in the $18 million to $20 million range. His is the first of several big-dollar contracts facing the 49ers. Deals for receiver Michael Crabtree, pass-rusher Aldon Smith and guard Mike Iupati are set to expire after the 2014 season, although with options and franchise tags, the 49ers have some flexibility.