Thursday was kind of a big day for the San Francisco 49ers. The team wrapped up mandatory minicamp, but the more intriguing event was Colin Kaepernick’s press conference. The 49ers quarterback met with the media for the first time since the 2015 season. This meant we got to hear about his rehab recovery, where things stand in the quarterback competition, and of course, the state of his trade request.
You can watch the full video here, and Chris Biderman and a couple other beat writers put together a transcript you can read here. The video is 17:50 in length, but if you have some time, I highly recommend watching it. Kaepernick has been criticized for his interactions with the media in the past. He was looking a little more relaxed at times, but prior to Thursday, it was not often a simple process. However, in Thursday’s media session, he looked more relaxed than I have ever seen him in such a setting. About halfway through, the PR person was wrapping it up, and Kaepernick said it was a unique situation, and if they had more questions, they were welcome to ask. He figures it is worth getting them out of the way now, so as to focus on football moving forward.
The media got in plenty of questions about the off-field issues. He was willing to take questions about the trade request, but he was not going to give much information. He did not say if the trade request was rescinded. When asked why he asked for a trade, he simply said it was about looking for different opportunities.
I don't think anybody should be surprised he did not get into much more about the trade, the Broncos, the last few months, or any of it. Sure, it’d be nice for him to say, I’ve rescinded my trade request and that's that. But he didn’t. He is a member of the 49ers until he isn’t, and we move on from there. I have no idea how long his 49ers career will continue, but let’s go with a cliche and say, we’re gonna take it one day at a time.
Relationship with organization
There has been plenty of chatter about Kaepernick's relationship with players, coaches, and the front office. He said he has not spoken with Trent Baalke since returning for the offseason workout program, and that he did not want to get into his relationship with the 49ers front office. The discussion included a question about his decision to use a doctor away from the organization. He would not go into details on that either.
He was asked about his relationship with his teammates, which came in light of the rumors of locker room issues last year. Speculation has flown all over the place on this. Some people have said he's a bit of a loner, others have pointed to his personal relationships, and generally it was coming up frequently during the season. Someone asked him about the relationships and if he felt his teammates had his back.
Yeah, from my standpoint I have a great relationship with my teammates. I really can’t answer that question for them how they view me. That’s a better question suited for them. For me, I have a great relationship with them and we’re all working hard to make sure we’re prepared to win this season.
He was also asked if the trade request had anything to do with Chip Kelly. Kaepernick said he would not get into specifics, other than to say, “but right now I’m a 49er, I’m excited to be here, I’m happy to be with Chip, my teammates.“ He did say that he thinks Chip Kelly’s system provides a great opportunity, saying it is similar to what he did in college, albeit more detailed and complex. He said things are phenomenal with Kelly, OC Curtis Modkins, and QB coach Ryan Day.
The belief is that everybody is playing nice at this point. That is obviously the case to some degree given the trade request. However, I also think this could still work out to some degree for Kaepernick and the 49ers. He has to actually execute on the field, but just because he has issues with Trent Baalke does not mean things cannot work out for Kaepernick and the coaches and/or players. The locker room situation would be a bigger concern if any issues remained. With Baalke, Kaepernick could probably go the entire year without talking to the GM, and I doubt it would be of much significance.
Chip Kelly has said the quarterback competition would really get going once Kaepernick was medically cleared. We saw part of that this week with his work in 7-on-7 drills, and all expectations are that he will be fully cleared for training camp. Chip Kelly said the quarterbacks will all get work with the first team. Kaepernick said that all he has heard is that it will be a competition, and just to be ready to come in and compete. And that was a common refrain in the press conference. He repeatedly stated he was ready for the competition, and that was the way he would be able to get the starting job.
Poor performance last season
There was talk about his injuries, and that led to a question about his struggles in 2015. There’s nothing that can be done about last season, and Kap recognizes it was a bad year:
To be perfectly blunt with you, I didn’t play my best football last year - injury, no injury, I wasn’t playing my best football. That’s something I’m excited about for this season is being able to redeem myself, go out there and play well and prove to everybody what I’m capable of.
There’s a long way to go in this process, but as everybody goes their separate ways, Colin Kaepernick seems relaxed and in a good place. It remains to be seen what it will all mean for the quarterback competition later this summer, but it’s good to see the pertinent parties on the same page to some degree as we move forward.