SANTA CLARA -- Coach Jim Harbaugh said it was a "great life-changing moment" for Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers when the quarterback signed a six-year extension through 2020 on Wednesday.

"I'm equally as excited about it," Harbaugh said Friday. "Colin is a great football player and a great teammate."

The extension is worth a guaranteed $61 million with a potential value of $126 million. But, as reported by ProFootballTalk.com, the deal provides limited risk to the 49ers with only roughly $13 million guaranteed at signing. Kaepernick's annual base salary becomes guaranteed on April 1 of each year, according to the report.

That team-friendly deal, which Kaepernick hinted about when he spoke after inking the contract, should allow the 49ers to keep talented players around him.

Harbaugh said he's just happy that his franchise quarterback won't have to deal with a swirl of contract-related questions throughout the season.

"Going through a season not having to think about contracts or questions about longevity or maybe pressure on him to put up certain statistics or numbers, now he's in a position where he knows and our teams knows and Colin can grow as a player," Harbaugh said. "I'm most excited about that."

  • Harbaugh spoke after U.S. Army Captain Mike Viti met with the 49ers rookie class to deliver a message centered on the importance of being a team.


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    Viti, who served in Afghanistan from 2010-11 as a platoon leader and earned a Bronze Star and Combat Action Badge, completed his military service in 2013 and is now embarking on a 7,100-kilometer hike across the country. It will conclude Dec. 13 in Baltimore at the Army-Navy game, and the distance is to honor the lives lost during the Global War on Terrorism.

    "On a day like today, D-Day, the 70th anniversary, it's an easy vehicle to draw a few lessons from some of the greatest heroes this country's ever known or will see," Viti said. "Connecting naturally with being a teammate and what that means about being a team. The greatest team we can all be a part of is Team America."

    Harbaugh spoke of the comparisons often made between football, war and the military.

    "We do make parallels from time to time, but it's out of respect and honor for what our military does," Harbaugh said. "To hear the insights of team and when it's life and death and the goal is to protect our country from somebody that's been there, that is gold for our players."

  • Rookie running back Carlos Hyde said he was shocked when the 49ers drafted him in the second round out of Ohio State last month.

    "I was like, 'They got Frank Gore, some other guys, they don't really need a running back,' " Hyde said. "I was looking at teams that actually need somebody to come in right now and play right away."

    But that shock quickly turned into excitement because of the 49ers' emphasis on the ground game.

    "That's definitely a smile on my face to go to an organization that leads the NFL in rushing and rushing attempts," Hyde said of the 49ers, who ranked third in the league in both categories. "Knowing that, I definitely got excited because, in college, all I wanted to do is run that ball. To come to an organization that that's what they do, that's exciting."

  • First-round pick Jimmie Ward, who likely won't fully participate until training camp because of a right foot injury, said he's progressing and taking advantage of mental repetitions.

    "The trainer said it looked good," Ward, a safety, said of his foot. "I got an X-ray, and everything panned out right."

    Ward also said he's "watching a lot of film right now. I can be more mental than physical. When I actually get on the field, I'll just know everything that I have to do."

    Follow Jimmy Durkin on Twitter at Twitter.com/Jimmy_Durkin.