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Chip Kelly: Niners never discussed cutting Kaepernick

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- The month of March has been dominated by a pair of quarterbacks who barely played last season.

While Robert Griffin III is veering toward a potential signing with the Cleveland Browns, the San Francisco 49ers say they're happy to stay put with Colin Kaepernick.

One day after 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said the team is "nowhere near" trading the signal-caller, new coach Chip Kelly went a step further Wednesday, saying during the NFC Coaches Breakfast that San Francisco has never discussed releasing Kaepernick prior to April 1, per CSN Bay Area's Matt Maiocco.

That date matters because if Kaepernick is still on the roster by April Fool's Day, his $12 million salary will be guaranteed for the 2016 season.

While the Browns say they're no longer interested in Kaepernick, the quarterback-needy Broncos remain on the radar with only Mark Sanchez and the untested Trevor Siemian on the roster.

Kelly on Wednesday, though, stood up for Kaepernick, arguing that the quarterback -- on the mend from three different surgeries since November -- can still play.

"It's not like his skill set diminished," Kelly said, per NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport. "... He didn't fall off, he got hurt. Let's get him healthy."

Coaches want as many players as they can get -- and Kelly's no different. While Blaine Gabbert showed plenty of improvement as a starter last season, Kelly's interest in Kaepernick dates back to his time with the Philadelphia Eagles. Besides, a rejuvenated Kaepernick would be a fascinating match for Kelly's attack.

While it's not too late for the Broncos to swoop in and make a play for the passer, the Niners sound content to keep Kaepernick around for another season unless they're blown away by an offer.

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