The San Francisco 49ers have a lot of questions going into the 2016 season and two of the biggest concern the quarterback situation and the new coach. While quarterback Blaine Gabbert doesn’t elicit much of a response in the love or hate category, his competition, Colin Kaepernick, and his coach, Chip Kelly, both do. People tend to either love or hate these guys, and there’s not a whole lot in between. At Sunday’s game at Levi’s Stadium, I talked to some fans to find out their thoughts on both CKs.
Let’s start with Kelly. The Niners new coach comes to San Francisco, er Santa Clara, after three years with the Philadelphia, two good, one not so good. The 49ers are coming off a disappointing 5-11 - let’s be honest, they weren't even that good - season. Fans of the red and gold are hungry for a improved, if not relatively successful, season. In my research, many fans think Kelly is just the man for the job. Of the fans I talked to, 75% are excited about Coach Kelly and what he can do for their team. When I asked why, every one of them said his offense. A few people said, who’s Chip Kelly. I’ll consider them indifferent.
In case you missed it, there’s a well-documented quarterback competition going on in Ninerville. Before today’s game, many thought Gabbert was pulling away, especially since Kaepernick was sidelined due to arm soreness. However, despite one wide open touchdown pass to TE Vance McDonald, Gabbert looked pretty mediocre, keeping the competition very much alive.
When it comes to 49ers’ fans, Kaepernick and the base have always had an interesting relationship. As I mentioned above, he is either adored or despised, rarely anything in between. It’s no secret which side I’m on; but in case you don't know, it’s the former. So why do people feel so strong on either side? In the beginning, a lot of the hatred stemmed from loyalty to formers 49ers’ and current Kansas City Chiefs’ QB Alex Smith. But now, I think it goes deeper.
“We love to hate Kap,” said 49er fan Jennifer Hayes. “You’ve got to put the blame on somebody.” Fair. And Kap isn't the first quarterback to be blamed when things go wrong.
Lucas Foster thinks he’s loved in the good times, hated in the bad, while his friend Kevin Wetzel put it the way, “He takes us to the Super Bowl or he takes us nowhere.”
Raul Medina pointed out something that may very well be true, whether it’s conscious or not. “You always have to put the blame on the guy with tattoos. He looks like the bad guy.” It should be noted that Medina has tattoos. And he’s in the liking Kaepernick camp.
In fact, Kaepernick is very much not the bad guy. He’s family-oriented, community minded, very supportive financially and with his time of Camp Taylor, a camp for children battling heart disease. He’s not a partier, but that is not the perception.
“He looks like a bad boy pretty boy,” said Jordan Cardy. “He’s not your typical quarterback. He’s not a pocket passer or even your typical scrambler.” Cardy, who is a Kaepernick supporter, thinks these traits all contribute to some of the vitriol.
Typical or not, Kaepernick is very much in the hunt for the 49ers’ starting quarterback position. After yesterday’s game, in which both Kelly and Gabbert described the latter’s performance as “up and down,” the job is anyone’s for the taking.
From a fan that’s on the love side. “Hopefully this a wake up call and he’ll get the opportunity to be Kap again,” said Anthony Ortiz. Here’s hoping. The Niners really do need a quarterback, one who can take them to the Super Bowl, or more realistically a decent record, but not nowhere. It’s going to be an interesting week in Denver.
Comment below and tweet me @49ersfangirl to let me know your thoughts on both Kap and Kelly.