Training camps begin at the end of July, and Colin Kaepernick remains unsigned by an NFL team.
There are two sides to the argument as to why Colin Kaepernick isn’t on an NFL roster. One argument is because he’s the victim of an elitist organization’s attempts to silence his efforts to make strides for an oppressed people. The other is because he struggled to grasp the subtle nuances of offensive scheme in the NFL, especially when those schemes became more complex. Maybe it was a little of both. Maybe it’s neither argument that was correct.
Either way, he’s still waits by the phone to hear a call from somebody’s head coach or general manager.
Kaepernick was a two-sport phenom who played his college ball at the University of Nevada. They’re mostly famous for their “pistol” offense. The quarterback never lines up under center and is given a small number of reads to make in the passing game (maybe two). If nothing was there, Kaepernick was often relied upon to make things happen with his legs. His college success was a result of his athletic superiority. Unfortunately, in the NFL, everyone’s a great athlete.
The argument for the NFL:
The early part of Kaepernick’s pro career was spent backing up Alex Smith on the San Francisco 49ers’ roster. Then, former head coach Jim Harbaugh had an idea. With playmakers everywhere on the offensive side of the ball, he’d substitute Kaepernick for Smith on offense. Smith was reasonably athletic but lacked Kaepernick’s speed and cannon-like arm. There was just one problem. Kaepernick was struggling to adapt to the complexity of the NFL game and the 49ers’ offensive playbook, so Harbaugh simplified it. “Kap” won early, but as scheme and film study began to take over, he struggled.
Long touchdown runs began to evaporate as teams learned to defend him. The cannon-like arm began to draw criticism as it was learned he lacked touch. Defenses knew what the 49ers intended to do offensively, and on one occasion, a national audience watched the Arizona Cardinals picked off multiple interceptions as the 49ers endured one of the most embarrassing losses of the Kaepernick era.
Mr. Kaepernick, a man who’s competed less than 60 percent of his passes for his career, would eventually lose the starting job to Blaine Gabbert who is still trying to prove he belongs in the NFL.
The argument for Kaepernick:
Coming out of college, Kaepernick had tremendous upside. NFL scouts were raving. The 49ers made him the 36th-overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft. They thought enough about him to trade up and give away three picks to make his selection (picks 45, 108, and 141 overall).
After being given the starting role in 2012, Kaepernick helped lead the 49ers to the playoffs. He rushed for 181 yards against the Green Bay Packers, a single-game record for rushing yards by a quarterback. That was followed by him leading the 49ers to a come-from-behind victory over the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship Game. In that season’s Super Bowl, he threw for one touchdown and ran for another as he helped in almost leading the 49ers to another world championship.
For his career (six seasons), Kaepernick’s thrown for 12, 271 yards. He’s run for another 2,300. He’s tossed 72 touchdowns and reached the end zone 13 times with his legs. He’s proven he can play at a high level in important games. So why isn’t he on an NFL roster?
The truth is most of the reason for Kaepernick’s success was the fact that he played on a 49ers team that was loaded. They were the same team who would have been in the Super Bowl a year prior if they would have been able to field two punts. It was Alex Smith that led them to the brink, not Kaepernick. The latter never showed he was able to beat out the former for the starting role. Instead he was given the position because he played for a coach who was enamored with his physical gifts.
Ladies and gentlemen, there aren’t many decent quarterbacks who couldn’t have been successful with that team
Since Harbaugh’s dismissal, Kapernick’s played for two coaches, Jim Tomsula and Chip Kelly. Both agreed Blaine Gabbert was the better option. Both relegated “Kap” to the backup role. What’s largely forgotten in talks about protests and things of that nature was Kaepernick wasn’t even the starter at the time. What largely goes unnoticed is the fact that, despite the fact that most of us (myself included) agreed with what he did, there were other players who protested as well, Malcolm Jenkins of the Philadelphia Eagles for instance. The NFL and the Eagles organization haven’t gotten rid of him.
I’m just as angered by what still goes on in this country and the way race relations and police brutality are handled. I share Kaepernick’s anger, but that isn’t why he isn’t in the league. He was barely in the league when his protests began, and the theory he’s been treated unfairly goes out the window for a bevy of reasons.
Robert Quinn of the Rams raised his fist in protest and is still in the NFL. So is every member of the Seattle Seahawks who linked arms to protest the same injustice. Kenny Stills and Michael Thomas are still hanging around. D.J. Fluker is still in the league. So is Ron Brooks, Jason McCourty and countless others who protested for the same reason as Mr. Kaepernick. I guess no one remembers the protests ended when he approached free agency. I’m not saying that he wasn’t genuine about his stance, but it is a strange coincidence.
Kaepernick struggled to find his way, even in his successful years. When interviewed later about that multi-interception game against the Cardinals, Arizona defensive back Tyrann Mathieu talked about the simplistic approach on offense that the 49ers had taken with Kaepernick under center and how easy it was to prepare for them.
“We knew going into this game that the focus for them was to run the football. Their passing game has just simplified so much, it was easy for us to anticipate routes, get some good breaks on the ball today.”
Ladies and gentlemen. That’s largely the reason his career has stalled. No one loves “Kap” more than me, but it’s time we chill with the conspiracy theories. Things aren’t over. Someone may call because one thing is certain. If Chase Daniel and Blaine Gabbert are still in the league, Kaepernick deserves a shot somewhere.
You might also like
More from Sports
With Boxing's subtle but resounding bow out from the mainstream eye of America over the recent years, the question has …