The Colin Kaepernick roller coaster ride – through the San Francisco 49ers section, anyway – appears to soon be nearing its end. One of three results seems imminent: A trade to the Denver Broncos, Cleveland Browns or New York Jets. And, if none of those three happen soon, you have to think a lesser trade with another team is worked out, or the quarterback is released.
A scenario where Kap reports to 49ers training camp is hard to fathom at this point. He’s reportedly asked for a trade, and the team appears willing to accommodate. The reported return of a second and/or third round is a big part of this, of course. That would be the 32nd overall pick were it to come from Cleveland, which would seem hard to turn down.
The question now, though, is whether or not this is the right decision for the 49ers to be making.
Personally, I’d have preferred that the sixth year Kaepernick stay with the team. We all know what his limitations are, but we’ve also seen what his potential is. He’s already in the team’s record books as far as winning road playoff games go. We’ve watched him slash opposing defenses. We’ve seen the big arm.
But, as these things go, people have paid more attention to the bad than the good. And that’s totally fair. There has been a heaping pile of bad that came along with the good, obviously, or he wouldn’t be on the trade block.
While much has been said about Kaepernick’s potential fit in new coach Chip Kelly’s offense, this isn’t a certainty. As has been widely covered on Niners Nation, Kelly’s offense needs accuracy, something Kaepernick has struggled with mightily. It’s one of the reasons we saw him benched in favor of Blaine Gabbert last year. Was some of that pressure? Trying too much to compensate for the lack of talent around him?
Maybe. But as Coach Kelly watches film, it’s a completely fair question for him to ask if Kaepernick is the right fit. Taking coverage sacks when the ball can be legally thrown away can’t be blamed on anyone else. Folding under pressure and making situations worse than they need to be is just as much the fault of the quarterback as those putting him into those situations.
At this point, the relationship is not salvageable. There is a deep strain over his contract, which he reportedly signed as very team-friendly with a gentleman’s agreement that the money saved would go to improve the team. Instead, he’s seen his coach shown the door, himself benched, the target of many leaks and several key players walk. Not all of the latter is the team’s fault, but you can start to see the picture the way Kap does from his own eyes.
The leaks -- both from the front office and the locker room – have compounded this issue. From his leadership, to who he dates, to how he parties. We’ve seen it all over the past calendar year. Despite playing for one of his childhood teams (remember that warm and fuzzy story?), it’s hard to talk yourself into wanting to remain in this situation if this was you going through this whirlwind.
So, there are two answers here, from my standpoint. No, trading Colin Kaepernick – he of the road playoff valor – is not a good idea. But, yes, trading Colin Kaepernick – he of the tattered and irreparable relationship – is a great idea.
It would have been nice to see how Kap may have fit in Kelly’s offense. That won’t happen now. It can’t happen now. This trade – or a release if that doesn’t work out – must happen.