The San Francisco 49ers employed an odd offensive strategy on Sunday. Colin Kaepernick had 15 drop-backs on the day, attempting five passes, getting sacked five times, scrambling three times, and having two passes called back due to penalties. In comparison, the team had Carlos Hyde, Shaun Draughn, and DuJuan Harris running the ball 27 times during Kaepernick’s time on the field.
Late in the game and well after the game, there was quite a bit of speculation about the lop-sided game plan. Prior to the game, Ian Rapoport reported that Colin Kaepernick was planning on opting out of his contract after the season. Rapoport did say to not rule out a potential return to the 49ers, but he acknowledged that Kaepernick wanted to test the market.
In light of that news, I have seen suggestions that there was some kind of sabotage against Kaepernick. There have been suggestions that the game plan was adjusted to make Kaepernick look bad in the game.
I certainly will not say it is impossible that such a thing happened, but that seems like a stretch to me. As Mark Salveit has told us, Chip Kelly abhors turnovers, and that often will impact depth chart decisions. In the weather we saw yesterday, it is possible the 49ers coach decided that it made more sense to turn the game into a grinder, and hopefully do just enough to win. Of course, the defense collapsed in the second half, and the offense never got going.
One reason I also find this suggestion unlikely is the fact that most people probably already believed Kaepernick would opt out when the season ended. There is a lot left to happen over the next couple months before we know what will happen with Kaepernick. His relationship with Trent Baalke has been icy for some time now, and if Baalke remains around after the season, it would seem a strong likelihood Kaepernick would depart.
But even if Baalke is gone in January, financially there is a chance Kaepernick can gain some security with a new deal. I don’t think he’ll be getting a $100 million deal next offseason, but given some of the quarterback situations around the league he could very well get a decent deal as a veteran bridge for a team. His social issues might turn some teams off, but there are enough bad quarterbacks in the league that I think at least one GM will be willing to give him a deal.
Chip Kelly said after the game that he has not made a decision on his quarterback for Week 14 against the New York Jets. Considering how badly Kaepernick played in limited work, this is not a surprising response. Kelly is away from the team on Monday with his family following the death of his father, but he should be back to meet with the media later this week. Offensive coordinator Curtis Modkins will meet with the media on Tuesday, but I doubt he provides much insight on the Week 14 QB. Once Kelly returns, he will likely have an answer.
It would be a surprise to see Kaepernick benched for Week 14 given that he had shown some signs of things in the games leading up to the Bears game. But considering how this season has gone, and how many problems this team has, I won’t put anything past anybody.