The San Francisco 49ers announced their annual team awards, and the most intriguing one is the Len Eshmont Award. The 2016 winner is quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
I say this is interesting because the award is voted on by the players, and is given to the 49er who best exemplifies the inspirational and courageous play of Len Eshmont. The team awards are voted on by a variety of people, with some coaches, some positional unit players, and so forth. The Len Eshmont Award is viewed as the most prestigious of the player-voted awards.
Kaepernick has been on the radar all season long dating back to his decision in August to sit and later kneel during the National Anthem. There has been a mix of support and criticism around the league and in the media. It quickly became a talking point to consider whether or not his teammates resented his protest. A few of his teammates joined in the protest in different ways. Eli Harold and Eric Reid joined him taking a knee, while Antoine Bethea and Rashard Robinson raised their fist during the Anthem.
I don’t believe this is a unanimous vote, so I will certainly not say that nobody is bothered by Kaepernick’s protest. But this would suggest a majority of his teammates are accepting of his protest decision. Back in late August, when this first became a thing, the team’s leadership council had Kaepernick address the team to discuss the protest. He talked about his reasons, and answered questions about the issues he was raising. Ever since then, aside from Trent Dilfer talking a bit of smack about locker room talk, there really has been no notable mentions leaking out of the locker room.
Kaepernick can opt out of his contract this coming offseason. If he does not opt out, the 49ers could also decide that they want to part ways. The team’s decision at general manager (and potentially head coach) means we can only guess how all of this will end. There are questions about what other teams might be willing to take on in light of his protest. It will make for an interesting offseason, to say the least.