Everybody seems to have an opinion on this Colin Kaepernick thing. Should he have benched in the first place? Are his shortcomings a product of bad coaching? It’s hard to really assume who may have an agenda or who may have intelligence behind their argument.
Luckily, we have Steve Young. A Super Bowl winning quarterback, Hall of Famer, and former 49er, Young’s career started very similar as a running quarterback with difficulty transitioning to a pocket passer. If anyone knows about Colin Kaepernick’s struggles in becoming an NFL quarterback and making throws from the pocket, it’s Young. In interviews and his own commentary, Young has used his own experiences in explaining Kaepernick’s growing pains, and they certainly provided some context.
Given that he’s just written a book and had a “Football Life” episode dedicated to him, Young’s been even more active than usual in the media. He was on KNBR to discuss his book and life, but he also was asked the inevitable question: What did he think of the Colin Kaepernick situation? Young was quick to go to the front office politics before he even went to the coaching or play of Kaepernick:
"It's a little unnerving. The whole we didn't want him to play until we could get this thing wrapped up. Like, we're in the middle of the season, we're trying to make things different. Change it. Get people back on track. And we can't play a guy who we think we probably should've played some, if not more already, but we don't want to because if he gets hurt then we have to pay him. And I'm like, come on. Let's get this going. So they finally get this done and now he's playing. That just feels awkward. I don't necessarily like it."
Taking politics away, Young also easily explained from a coaching and playing standpoint why a decision had to be made:
“0-1 is the worst place in the world, because that was close to 0-2 then you start to smell 1-4 and 1-4? You’re cooked. You’re lucky to stay on the field. So that’s what happened. You go 1-4, you’re not moving the ball, you’re 32nd in passing? You lose your job. Especially when you’ve got a guy sitting there—despite all the conversation we’re going to have about Colin—who took a team to the Super Bowl. That’s kind of a no brainer.”
Young would later go on to state “1-4 is death” and use the NY Jets as a comparison, bringing up Ryan Fitzpatrick’s job being on the line for his play in New York. That may not be a fair comparison. The alternative to Blaine Gabbert is Colin Kaepernick or Christian Ponder, the alternative to Fitzpatrick is Geno Smith.
Going on, Young actually is a fan of Chip Kelly’s system. A refreshing change when it seems like most NFL veterans are trying to knock the 49ers head coach’s uptempo offense. Here’s what Young said specifically to Kelly’s offense:
“In the end, I would want to play for him, I would want him to call plays. I would want to be challenged to process plays the way he ask you to process. I would love the idea that every play has an answer in it, whether it’s a blitz or a single safety deep or a man or two deep zone. He teaches a philosophy that every play has the answer and you have to process through it, from the shotgun, going really fast. Well, I would love that.“
It certainly feels a bit better when someone of the pedigree Young has not only sticking up for a 49ers quarterback, but also for the coach and offensive system.
Today we’re about to see what has been widely speculated as a dream pairing of Kaepernick in Chip Kelly’s system. A ‘what-if’ that’s been going on since Chip Kelly entered the NFL. Now a hall of fame quarterback’s optimism is in the mix.
Let’s see how Kaepernick turns out.