Sakamoto: 49ers Releasing QB Colin Kaepernick Will Be A “Football Decision.”


At the end of the day, the NFL is a business. Just like any other industry, in the world of sports entertainment, it’s still part of Corporate America. However, it often gets dismissed as such due to being so fan-based driven. Nonetheless, all 32 NFL teams have to pay taxes just like everyone else. A change that was needed as NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was under fire due to NFL teams being tax-exempt, that all changed in 2015.

“The effects of the tax-exempt status [501(c)(6) non-profit] of the league office have been mischaracterized repeatedly in recent years,” Goodell said in a letter. “The fact is that the business of the NFL has never been tax-exempt.”

So why am I bringing this up? Well, as you may have heard, San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick may be cut sooner rather than later.

Colin Kaepernick


Just like in any business, if a person isn’t performing up to the company’s standards, more times than not, they are fired. The same logic applies to NFL players. However, there seems to be a dilemma swirling around Levi’s Stadium if Kap was indeed cut- simply due to all the national media attention he has been receiving for his stance on current America.

“On the surface it’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation.”

If the 49ers cut Kaepernick, National media will say it was because of his refusal to stand for the National Anthem while being an (off-field) distraction. The 49ers would then have no choice but to go on the defensive on why the” football decision” to cut Kap was made.

A player’s success is based on their on-field performance, and simply put, Kaepernick has not lived up to his six-year contract worth up to $126 million (including $61 million guaranteed). A contract he signed before the 2014 season, Kaepernick has clearly under-performed. Which leads me to the financial risk involved of that contract.

According to Matt Maiocco of CSN:

If Kaepernick is on the 49ers roster on April 1, 2017 – or he is injured at that point and cannot be released – his entire scheduled salary for next season of $14.5 million becomes fully guaranteed.

What kind of business would want to tackle on that type of risk? 49ers GM Trent Baalke calls the NFL a risk/reward business – and let me tell you, the risk does NOT outweigh the reward.

However, aside from the financial ramifications, it’s his off-field behavior that has some of the players on edge. Back on May 1, 2015, TMZ reported that Matt Barnes called out Kap for being a ‘Hoe.’ Why? Because he thought his ex-girlfriend Gloria Govan was messing around with Kap.

Then on Aug. 7 2015, a love triangle surfaced between Kap-Nessa-and OLB Aldon Smith in which TMZ reported a physical altercation involving Kap and Smith. Did this take place? I did research of my own and there is some truth to this incident.

In fact, when Kaepernick requested a trade from San Francisco on Feb. 25, 2016, I said that the “love triangle” rubbed some players the wrong way as some believed he broke the ‘bro code.’ It’s true. He did. If you played sports then you would know what I’m talking about. Players talk. They say the safe things in front of the camera (because most of them are smart) but behind closed doors when the cameras are off…all bets are off.

It’s called the locker room. Everything should stay in-house. That’s just the way it is. And always has been.


The locker room dynamic should raise morale but with Kaepernick in the mix – I sense a reverse affect. He’s clearly on the outside looking in. Breaking the “bro code” while then requesting a trade (rubbed players again the wrong way), and now refusing to stand up for the National Anthem (which is his right), has clearly put the 49ers in a tough position. Is this some form of insubordination? A way to force the 49ers hand to cut the dual-threat quarterback? Who knows.


Let’s look at this from a player’s perspective. As a teammate, how would you like it if a player wanted out of San Francisco, only to find out he will be returning the very next season? That’s like an ex-girlfriend seeing if the grass is greener on the other side, only to find out that it isn’t, which then leads her running back to you. Doesn’t work that way, bruh.

And to compound that problem, you have Kap breaking the bro code. This is toxic on so many levels and brews an unhealthy working environment- not only for the players, but the coaches, management, and organization as a whole.

But let’s be honest about one thing. I’ve been saying all along via twitter that QB Blaine Gabbert would be the Week 1 starter. I took a lot of heat for that. Let’s be clear. I have nothing against Kap. I’ve said all along that Kap has the potential to be a Pro Bowl quarterback.

However, it’s his cerebral approach to the game that I question. Can he make proper reads? Does he make sound decisions? Does he have solid pocket presence to climb up or step-out to open up re-launching points? These are intangibles that have been sorely missing since he became the full-fledged starter.

And for those who say that Kaepernick took the 49ers to the Super Bowl, I would be quick to argue. This isn’t golf. This isn’t tennis. Football is a team sport, and the last time I checked, the 49ers had the 3rd ranked defense and 4th ranked rushing attack. These are the facts.

So the million dollar question remains, will the 49ers cut ties with their once chosen franchise quarterback? Can the team roll with rookie QB Jeff Driskel as the team’s backup, and realistically expect to win? I don’t think so.

However, should a quarterback become available as a “surprise cut” like QB Matt Barkley than that would be a game-changer — making things real interesting as to whether they want to keep Kap around.

The 49ers need to do one of two things. Keep Kap and roll with it or wipe their hands clean and move on. Either way, stick to your guns, and don’t look in the rear-view mirror, because either way a #7StormsComing…

Ryan is the Founder/CEO of, 49ers Beat Writer, Live Game Day Correspondent for Bleacher Report and member of Pro Football Writers of America. Born and raised in San Jose, he also graduated from San Diego State University. His work has been featured on NFL Network, 95.7 The Game, National Football Post, Sports Illustrated, FanSided Network, ESPN Radio, CBS Sports 810, and NBC Bay Area News. For more information, please contact him via email at or call him at (408) 622-0996.