The San Francisco 49ers have all sorts of roster question to sort out now that the season has come to a close. However, with the general manager and coach search going on, pretty much any roster decision is going to be delayed for the next week or two.
However, one potential free agent that will remain on the radar around the NFL is Colin Kaepernick. The 49ers quarterback is signed through the 2017 season, but has the option to opt out this year. Kirk Cousins leads this year’s QB class, but if Washington places the franchise tag on him, the market is going to be pretty barren. Kaepernick could decide he wants to get out of the Bay Area and find a new option.
Of course, in light of his National Anthem protest, it is not surprising that some personnel folks around the NFL are not keen on signing him. Ebenezer Samuel spoke with some anonymous executives, and there are some that don’t want to deal with his “distraction.”
“I wouldn’t touch the guy,” one personnel man from a quarterback-needy team told the Daily News. “(He) still has some in the tank, but (is) not worth bringing him into your building . . . too much of a distraction and also not what you want in the locker room.”
“No one likes the protest stuff,” said one league source. “That won’t help.”
One source did tell Samuel that the lack of quality quarterbacks in the NFL and his own decent play at times will probably be enough to land him a job somewhere.
It is always interesting to see what sets off personnel folks, and what they view as a distraction. For some, you beat up a woman or commit some other crime, they are willing to sweep that under the rug. If video or police reports see public light, then these brave GMs will step up and do something, but if they can cover it up, plenty seem fine to let you keep playing.
But take a knee in silent protest during the Anthem? Well, that’s just too much of a distraction. It is shown on TV and discussed across the media landscape, and so that makes it a little too public for many executives. There is talk of what it would do in the locker room, but Kaepernick winning the team’s player-voted Len Eshmont Award for courageous and inspiring performance would not seem to matter.
Sure, some of his teammates might not have liked his protest or the attention it drew, but this team was going to be bad no matter what. The locker room seemed fine, and there was limited griping about the protest, or griping about much of anything. That could be problematic in its own right, but by all indications, the protests were not an issue for the 49ers locker room.
I don’t think every NFL executive will try and black-ball Colin Kaepernick, but it will be interesting to see how many QB needy teams pass on even a visit with Kaepernick. This all assumes he opts out and is not subsequently released by the 49ers. But if he is out there as a free agent, there will be teams in need.
We will likely have to wait until late February before we get any official confirmation as to whether or not Kaepernick has opted out of his contract. I imagine there will be leaks about plans, but I also expect that to take some time to happen. He could be planning on opting out regardless of the coach and GM situation. Or, he might be inclined to at least wait and see who will be taking over. And, then he could also hope to stick around no matter what. And even if that is the case, the 49ers could still decide they want to release him. There are a few moving parts while we wait and see how this shakes out.