Colin Kaepernick won't be signing any contract for $18 million a season. Not for $18.5 million per year, either. The idea he would be happy to land a deal in the range of what Tony Romo or Jay Cutler is earning is a complete and total misnomer. Ain't happenin'.

So I'll let you in on a little secret: The 49ers already know this. Unequivocally. Their negotiations with their young franchise quarterback are still in their infancy, but they are quite aware there aren't any bargain deals to be had here. Far from it. Talks with Kaepernick, if they truly get off the ground, will begin at $20 million a year.

As I first reported back in January, Kaepernick is perfectly willing to gamble on himself, a la Joe Flacco, and will play out his rookie contract if need be (he is signed through 2014). He won't be doing any "bridge contracts" or "band-aid deals," and I can tell you that an extension in the range of the Romos and Cutlers and Staffords simply is not happening.

This kid is confident enough and stubborn enough and motivated enough and focused enough to stick to that position no matter what the 49ers put before him. I can assure you that. He won't budge for less than he believes he is worth. This shouldn't be a revelation based on what I've reported before the NFC title game and earlier this offseason and again, last week, during the combine.

But in the wake of a Boston Globe report pegging Kaepernick's magic number around $18 million, I cannot emphasize strongly enough how far a deal structured in that manner will fall short.

So I'm going to let you in on another little secret: Kaepernick believes he is a top-five quarterback. Staunchly. Now, you and I can debate this -- and likely will, later in this here column -- but in the end, what I think and what you believe is irrelevant. San Francisco eventually has to get Kaepernick to agree to sign away the next five-plus years of his playing career, and that absolutely, positively will not come cheap. At a time when Aaron Rodgers is the league's top-rated passer at $22 million a year, and an aging Peyton Manning is the fifth-highest paid at $19.2 million a season, Kaepernick feels, in his bones, to his core, that he belongs somewhere between there, and I bet sometime in the next three months he gets just that, same as Flacco and Ryan did a year ago.

Now, Kaepernick would never express any of these feelings publicly, and there's no need for him to. In the end, all the talking that needs to occur happens on the field. The body of work speaks loudest.

So, Kaepernick, if he signs a contract extension with the 49ers, will be doing so in the range of $20 million per season, putting him among the top five or six salaries in the history of the game. Otherwise, he'll play for his $1M in 2014 and then force the issue with the 49ers as to whether they franchise him, or sign him to what will in all likelihood be an even more massive contract come 2015 if this kid continues to develop as rapidly as he has to this point. And you can go ahead and ask the Ravens if they would have preferred to have Flacco signed at around $16.6M annually, as they could have in 2011, or Flacco at $20.1M annually, as was the case when he put pen to paper after winning the Super Bowl following the 2012 season.