49ers' Kaepernick has torn thumb ligament on throwing hand

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has a torn ligament in the thumb on his throwing hand and surgery has been recommended. That could happen as soon as this week once he receives a second opinion on the injury.

He also will have his surgically repaired left shoulder checked during a visit to the Steadman Clinic in Vail, Colorado. Kaepernick, who was demoted in November after his struggles, said "continued pain" in the thumb caused concern but he didn't know the extent of the injury until undergoing an MRI exam last week. He will travel Tuesday to Colorado.

Kaepernick said he injured the thumb in a home loss to Seattle on Oct. 22.

"It's been recommended surgery and get confirmation on whether I'll need surgery or not," he said. "We'll get it fixed as soon as possible. They haven't given me specific dates as far as how long it will be."

He underwent surgery on the left shoulder in late November to repair a torn labrum.

"He's got several things that he's working through," general manager Trent Baalke said. "We'll get a better grasp on how the rehabs are going in the different things and get him ready for the offseason program, that's the goal."

In terms of his future with the 49ers, who fired first-year coach Jim Tomsula after Sunday's season-ending overtime win against St. Louis, Kaepernick says, "I'm under contract, I'm a 49er."

He did not elaborate on whether that means he wants to return amid speculation the team will try to trade him or cut him.

The 28-year-old Kaepernick's $11.9 million 2016 contract would become fully guaranteed for injury if he's still on the roster on April 1, to which Baalke said, "I'm not worried about April 1, I'm more worried about getting him healthy and getting him ready for the offseason program."

That's Kaepernick's focus, too.

"For me, that's not a date I'm concerned with," Kaepernick said. "I feel like I'm going to be playing football regardless of April 1, April 2. I'm doing everything I can to be healthy as soon as I can," Kaepernick said. "Once again, I'm preparing to be healthy and win the Super Bowl. That's all my focus is."

The franchise drafted him in the second round out of Nevada in 2011 and he took over the starting job from Alex Smith in November 2012. Kaepernick immediately showed the dynamic player he could be with his strong arm and quick legs — including a quarterback-record 181 yards rushing in a playoff win against Green Bay on the way to the Super Bowl.

But Kaepernick is coming off a forgettable 2015 season.

Blaine Gabbert took over the starting QB job Nov. 8 for the final eight games and has no plans to relinquish the job.

"I'm going to compete. That's in my blood, that's who I am as a person: 'I'm going to be the starting quarterback, I'm going to be a starting quarterback,' and that's the way I'm approaching this offseason," Gabbert said Sunday night. "Regardless of what happens, that's my mindset moving forward and I'm going to take this team and run with it."

Initially when making the quarterback change, Tomsula said he wanted Kaepernick to "step back and breathe and look at things through a different lens."

To that, Kaepernick said, "I'm not out of breath, so I don't understand that reference."

"The next head coach is going to have a lot of say in what we do at that position," Baalke said.

In eight starts and nine games this season, Kaepernick passed for 1,615 yards and six touchdowns with five interceptions — a career-high four of those came with two pick-6s in a 47-7 Week 3 loss at Arizona. He was sacked 28 times.

"I'm confident in the players in this locker room, I'm confident that we have the players here to succeed," Kaepernick said. "We're doing everything we can to do our part to make sure we have a winning team."

During his time recovering from surgery, Kaepernick said he has worked on bettering himself as a person.

"I continue to get stronger, continue to be a better man and be a better man for the people around me," he said.

Whether or not he is in his No. 7 Niners uniform come the 2016 season, Kaepernick has one idea for what it takes to be a head coach.

"Winning," he said, "ultimately that's what makes a good head coach. You have to be able to lead 53 players into a game and have them win."


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