18 Million? Not so much.

Colin Kaepernick is perhaps one of the most polarizing figures in the NFL today. He runs like the wind, has a cannon for an arm, has been photographed with beautiful women and has led the San Francisco 49ers to back-to-back NFC Championship games and a Super Bowl. Many would argue he is absolutely worth the $18 million extension he is looking for. I am not.

While I’ve written before about the huge upside I believe Kaepernick possesses, his maturity as an all-around quarterback isn’t quite there yet. With respect to the Niners signal caller, in comparison to Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck, he’s third. He has struggled progressing past the first read on passing routes, and his ability to get the play called before the play clock expires has been an issue at times. While he has an impressive record of 21-8, the team has largely been led by defense and the run game. 2012 saw an impressive offensive output from Kap, but he was the engineer of the 30th ranked passing offense last season.

But enough Kaepernick “bashing.” The real positive with the former University of Nevada field general is his massive potential. ESPN’s Ron Jaworski made heads turn last year when he said Kaepernick has the potential to be one of the best ever, but it isn’t an insane statement. He has a very high football IQ, the only problem was processing all of the information in his head while running the 49ers complicated offense.

As Kap enters his third season at the helm, I firmly believe this one may be his best. The playoffs saw an improvement in his ability to read defenses, especially against Green Bay and Carolina, and that only figures to grow in that regard. With Anquan Boldin recently re-upping with San Francisco, Kaepernick will have his full compliment of targets to start the year, barring injury.

Another factor working in Kaepernick’s favor are the recent contracts given to franchise quarterbacks. Tony Romo and Jay Cutler both received large deals, so Kap may have some leverage in the negotiating process. Regardless, if the Niners won’t pay him now, some other team will.

For the record, I’m not against re-signing Kaepernick, I just think the number he’s asking for is too high coming off a disappointing sophomore campaign. While the 49ers have already announced Kaepernick’s contract as a priority, it will be interesting to see how things play out. Extend if you must, Trent Baalke, just don’t overpay.

You can follow me on Twitter @mrandyparker

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