"If he's here on April 4, we're going to coach the heck out of him, and he's going to work his (tail) off," Kelly told Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee at San Jose State's pro-day workout.
Responding "if" Kaepernick is on the roster strays slightly from Kelly's comments after he was hired. It's also not as firm as his comments to beat writers during the NFL Scouting Combine in February.
"'Is he on the team? Is he not on the team?'" Kelly said at the time. "It's never been a question. I'm excited to work with Colin."
News then leaked that Kaepernick's camp began seeking a trade. Since then, reports of a potential deal for the quarterback have been intermittent. NFL Media columnist Michael Silver has reported the Denver Broncos value Kap at a fourth-round level. The Cleveland Browns are said to be offering a third-round pick. The Niners want a second-round selection.
With the nebulous haze surrounding the situation, it's not surprising that Kelly is changing his syntax about Kaepernick's status in San Francisco to something less firm.
The coach added he's been in contact with the quarterback, but again, citing league rules, told Barrows that he's only discussed Kaepernick's rehab from shoulder surgery.
"He says he's doing well, progressing nicely," Kelly said.
It seems likely that Kaepernick will finish that progress with a different team. For now, that outcome is still in the "if" stages.