The San Francisco 49ers wrapped up the 2016 regular season with a Week 17 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. On Monday, players cleared out their lockers for the offseason, and several met with the media. One player who was not around was quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Media said his locker was cleared out when they arrived, and so he was not around to meet with the media.
Kaepernick did meet with the media Sunday afternoon following the 49ers loss. He talked about winning the Len Eshmont award, what he learned from Chip Kelly, and how 49ers fans have treated him. Kaepernick is signed through 2017, but has the option to opt out next month. If he chooses to do that, this could have been his final formal press conference with the 49ers. Here’s a full transcript what he had to say.
Did you hear last night the news that general manager Trent Baalke and head coach Chip Kelly are both going to be fired or have been fired?
“I saw reports that that was going to happen. I don’t have any confirmation or anything like that. I just saw that that could be a possibility.”
What was your reaction to that? Trent’s already said that he is going to be fired and Chip, I guess, is going to have a meeting with 49ers chief executive officer Jed York. If they are both gone, what are your thoughts about that?
“That’s above me. That’s not something I have a decision or input on. I will say I appreciate Chip and what he’s done as far as coming to work every day and making sure this team stays focused and being resilient and not very good circumstances as far as how our team was playing win-loss record wise. So, I do appreciate the fact that he came in every day, worked his tail off to make sure that this team was prepared.”
How will those departures impact you whether you opt out of your contract or now at the end of the season?
“That’s something that, now that we’re at the end of the season, I’ll have time to reflect on and see how things play out. Once again, I have a great appreciation for this organization, Jed and [chief strategy officer & executive vice president, football operations] Paraag [Marathe], have a good relationship with them. So, a lot of things to think about moving forward and we’ll see where this goes.”
Did it cross your mind that this could be your last game in a 49ers uniform?
“No. Not today. My focus was on the Seattle Seahawks, trying to make sure I was prepared, my teammates were prepared to go out and give everything we have to try to get a win today.”
Even when walking off the field, you didn’t let that get into your mind?
“No. At that point, I was still thinking about what I could have done differently during the game to try to help us win. I don’t think you really think about those things until you get time to sit down, decompress and then really reflect.”
From the outside, it looked like maybe you enjoyed yourself a little more this season with this organization. First off, is that true and then did Chip make it fun for you guys? How did he interact with you?
“I had a great relationship with Chip. We were always working, trying to figure out the best way to make this offense go. And once again, my relationship this year was much improved from year’s past with Jed, Paraag. I think we have a great relationship now and I was excited about that. I was excited about this organization as a whole, teammates playing hard regardless of the circumstances and coming to work every day and preparing to win regardless of what position we were put in.”
What did winning the Len Eshmont Award mean to you?
“I think the thing, to me, that stood out was it was my teammates that voted on it. That really means a lot to me. I can’t express how grateful I am to have teammates like I did this year. They stood behind me regardless of any situation that went on, had a lot of great conversations in the locker room and I think even today in a situation where we have a lot of injuries, a lot of players that are new stepping on the field, we went out, we fought together and we stayed together to the very end and gave everything we had for each other. So, to me, that’s what stood out to me was that it was from my teammates and it really means a lot.”
You’ve been with this team, obviously, to the Super Bowl and through the tough times. If Kelly is let go, this will be the fourth coach in four years next season. Just through your experience, what does this team need to be successful to get back to the playoffs? What are the elements that you see that are missing that this team need?
“There’s a lot of things that go into that. It could be week-to-week as far as finishing games. It could be keeping players healthy. We had a lot of players injured this year, a lot of players go on IR where you constantly have moving parts. So, it’s hard for players to get in a flow and get comfortable with the man next to him when you don’t have those reps together and building that chemistry. So, there’s a lot of things that play into that that need to be adjusted for next year.”
Saw you give Chip a pretty big hug right before the game. Was that somewhat related to the news that he might be going and you wanted to at least let him know something there?
“No. I appreciate Chip and what he does on a daily basis regardless of the circumstances. I make sure I go over, I give him a hug before every game. And to me, he’s someone that, the resilience he’s shown with the circumstances that have gone on this year, I appreciate that.”
What are going to be the most important factors for you in determining whether or not you come back here or test free agency?
“Once again, there will be a lot of things that play into that and I’ll have to really think about those things as this offseason approaches.”
Was there one particular thing that you absorbed from Chip this year that will stick with you in terms of making you a better quarterback? Was there one particular area that you thought he helped you out?
“I think the biggest thing is, can relate to football but more so relates to life, and that’s not letting your circumstances dictate your attitude and how you approach a situation. Once again, our circumstances weren’t the best this year, but our team came out, we played hard every week. We played for each other each week and that was something that I look at as something I can take moving forward and make sure I can continue to do that.”
The other day you talked about the different fan bases and different cities and how they reacted to you. How has this fan base reacted to you and how have you felt about them?
“This fan base has been amazing. The support I’ve had, people backing me, standing behind me and saying how much they appreciate what I’m doing and what I’m trying to help others do. So, I can’t express how much I appreciate them because it’s been six years now and had a lot of good times with these fans. Some rough times as well, but they’ve always been there, they’ve always stood behind me, behind this organization and I appreciate that.”