For anyone really paying attention to the situation, it was abundantly clear that 2015 was a make or break season for QB Colin Kaepernick. The clues had been there all along, and if you followed the trail you’d understand that the San Francisco 49ers brain trust was never quite sold on him as their quarterback of the future.
To start, Kaepernick was handpicked by former head coach Jim Harbaugh. When Harbaugh was shown the door, Kaepernick lost what was possibly his biggest supporter in the building. Considering how much GM Trent Baalke and Jed York appear to want to distance themselves from everything Harbaugh, it shouldn’t come as a shock that they’d want to move on from his underachieving ex-student.
The first sign of that actually came in form of Kaepernick’s contract, which gives the 49ers an out after every season (barring a major injury). Essentially, it’s a year-to-year deal that will let the team cut ties with him without any major salary cap implications. Kaepernick has to sing for his supper at every turn, and considering he’s been off-key more often than not, it’s giving San Francisco an easy out.
The next clue to Kaepernick being on shaky ground was the rumor this offseason that he was on the trading block. The 49ers obviously came out and said there was no truth to it, but where there’s smoke there’s fire. You have to wonder if someone offered a decent package, or if the team was able to sign QB Brian Hoyer, if Baalke would have pulled the trigger on something. Hoyer was looking for a starting opportunity as free agent, and the 49ers showed significant interest in bringing him in. (Now I am in NO WAY saying Hoyer would have been the answer or even a good move, just trying to speculate what Baalke may have been thinking when they showed interest in signing him).
The final nail in Kaepernick’s coffin are the recent reports of him being “alone on a island” in the locker room, and not connecting with his teammates. This may or may not be because of an alleged “love triangle” with OLB Aldon Smith’s ex, but it’s disturbing nonetheless. The information was somehow leaked to the media, and we all know what happens when things start to “leak” out of San Clara. I mean, we’ve seen this movie before haven’t we? There were multiple stories from “sources” about Harbaugh for quite sometime before the team finally parted ways with him. It’s the way York and Baalke work. They start to paint a picture through the media, and then eventually the inevitable comes to fruition.
So make no mistake, barring a complete career resurgence, Kaepernick is playing his final games for the 49ers. Moreover, if the team loses their next two going into the bye, I fully expect a quarterback change as the team will move on to QB Blaine Gabbert for the remainder of the season. Sure, the Niners may want to keep Kaepernick out there to showcase him, but remember, the York’s are cheap before they are anything else, and I don’t think they’d want to risk injury and be on the hook to owe him more money.
What gets to me the most about this situation though, is the fact that despite the doubts surrounding Kaepernick, Baalke has refused to bring in a young quarterback to develop. Instead, he chooses to sign the Gabbert’s and QB Colt McCoy’s of the world, who provide the team no real upside other than a temporary fill in. Now, there doesn’t appear to be a long-term answer at the position, and it’s unclear where the 49ers go from here.
Look, I’m not defending Kaepernick at all. In my opinion he’s too inconsistent and more of an athlete than a quarterback. I also believe that he comes across as immature, and I’m in the camp that thinks the 49ers should go in a different direction. But instead of doing things right way, the organization instead appears to be fronting another smear campaign and approaching the situation as dysfunctional as possible.
It’s like there’s no end in sight to the constant drama that the 49ers continue to bring on themselves.