Nyck Grayson, March 19th, 2017:
Let me start by saying that this is NOT, I repeat this is NOT a race debate, nor is this a political dispute. With that said if the topic at hand turns you off due to your distain for the cover athlete then that is perfectly fine with me and I will not scold you at all for clicking away from this post.
Imagine that, scolding someone for acting on/or against something that they believe in. That’s what seems to be happening to former San Francisco 49ers Quarterback, Colin Kaepernick. After opting out of his contract and becoming a free agent earlier this offseason, Kaepernick finds himself with very little interest in comparison to the other QBs currently on the FA market. It doesn’t need to be explained that Kaepernick faced an adverse 2016 campaign due to his ‘kneeling protest of the national anthem’ in opposition of the police brutality that permeated the country last summer, and the vitriol that came from it.
Because of this, Kaepernick’s injury riddled 2015 season, and obvious decline in production when compared to his successful years in SF; Two straight NFC title trips, one that saw him come within yards of capturing the organizations 6th Super Bowl). After a 16:4 TD/INT ratio, 2,241 yard, 12 games, 11 starts season, there’s been a widespread narrative and agreement that he doesn’t deserve a job and has not earned a chance to be signed to another roster. Words like “He sucks that’s why he’s not getting signed” or “He’s washed up” are spreading throughout outlets and I disagree with that notion. Is Colin Kaepernick great? Absolutely not. Is he going to lead your team to a Super Bowl? Probably not. But a big personal gripe I’ve had is the numerous lesser producing and lesser skilled QBs getting signed daily.
Mike Glennon (CHI), Brian Hoyer (SF), Nick Foles (PHI), Matt Barkley (SF), EJ Manuel (OAK), and Geno Smith (NYG) all have found new homes since the Free Agency period has started. And for all of the aforementioned names, debate could be made that Colin Kaepernick has better credentials and had a better 2016 season than all of them. Only one of those acquisitions appear to signings that would lead to a starting position (Glennon in Chicago). The rest are moves to boost QB competition and provide depth. Why, after this past season is Kaepernick not being considered to if nothing else provide a competent backup at the league’s most important position?
Kaepernick, has been widely regarded as a player who has regressed since the years when he was Quarterbacking the 49ers to the NFC Championship game. The below 59% completion percentage that constantly gets brought up after his 2016 season was very near identical to the 2012 and 2013 years. Asking the questions how good was he? The answer is solid enough to win football games. And in some aspects Kaepernick took a step forward in 2016 sharpening some issues that plagued him in years prior.
* Remember in years prior when Kaepernick had little to no pocket presence and would tuck and run when things didn’t develop fast enough? This isn’t jaw dropping but in his first start this past season he showed improvement in that aspect.
* Once again Kaepernick showing pocket presence and using his athleticism to further extend the play all while keeping his eyes downfield, hitting Jeremy Kerley on the shallow route. This type of ability gets brushed off when playing with the 32nd ranked defense and having a limited amount of weapons at your disposal.
* And finally, this is a great example of everything Kaepernick has improved on, staying alive and hurting defenses (a damn good one in Arizona) with both his legs and his arm. If Aaron Rodgers does this, as he often does, our mouths water. Let’s recognize ability.
Colin Kaepernick is not a guy who can lead your team to February football by himself, look across the league to find one who can and the list is very small. He is not a guy who is going to break the all-time record for rushing yards in a game as a QB as we saw in the playoffs against Green Bay years ago. With that said he has the credentials that warrant some interest from NFL teams. The theory that he would be a cancer to the locker room can be easily be denied by his rewarding of the 49ers Len Eshmont Award voted on by the players and is given to the 49er who best exemplifies the inspirational and courageous play of Len Eshmont. For a league that significantly values its image it sends an odd message basically saying “You can sexually assault women, beat women, smoke weed, and drive drunk if you’re good enough, but you can’t have a social or political stance and stand (or kneel) for what you believe in if you’re not good enough.” I won’t say he’s being blackballed just yet as were only 9 days into free agency but it sure seems he’s heading in that direction.