The San Francisco 49ers have two quarterbacks on their roster, and the chances of another veteran joining the group at this point appears to be unlikely. On Friday general manager John Lynch said the team’s doors are still open for free agent business, but things are winding down. Most notably, he said the doors are still for Colin Kaepernick to return, but given their current situation, the likelihood of that happening has gone down significantly.
Lynch made an appearance on KNBR, and continues to offer much more openness about the 49ers plans during the offseason. He talked about plans next week to check out Mitch Trubisky, DeShaun Watson and DeShone Kizer. He talked about the team hosting a visit on Thursday (without naming the player). And he seemed pretty honest about Kaepernick’s status.
Lynch has previously said the two sides agreed that Kaepernick would not be back on his current contract. Kaepernick then opted out and since then we have not heard about even a nibble. Nick Foles signed with the Philadelphia Eagles, Geno Smith had a visit with the New York Giants (and now is expected to sign there, per Adam Schefter), and a host of middle of the road to low end quarterbacks are in the rumor mill, but Kaepernick is getting nothing.
The lack of talk is no surprise. He has not performed at the level we saw in 2012 and 2013, but as we’ve seen plenty of quarterbacks that are worse than Kaepernick will get a second or third or fourth chance. However, they also don’t have the baggage NFL GMs and owners perceive with Kaepernick.
Mike Freeman spoke with an AFC general manager recently. The GM said he thinks Kaepernick can still play at a high level, but he faces several issues:
- Around 20 percent of teams “genuinely believe that he can't play.”
- Around 10 percent of teams “fear the backlash from fans after getting him. They think there might be protests or [President Donald] Trump will tweet about the team.
- Around 10 percent are a combination of the first two
- The remaining 60 percent or so, “genuinely hate him and can't stand what he did.” The GM said those teams “want nothing to do with him” and they think that black-balling him is a form of punishment, with some thinking it can serve as a cautionary tale to stop other players.
Freeman has previously spoken with executives who had issues with his protest, so this is not entirely new information. One general manager certainly has a chance to speak with plenty of other league executives, but I’d be curious how much of his percentages are assumptions, versus actually asking most of the other teams what they think.
I don’t think every single team hates what Colin Kaepernick did. We saw the 49ers stand behind him, and make significant contributions to groups that support issues along the lines of what Kaepernick has raised. We also saw Miami Dolphins ownership support their players and support forums to further engagement.
At this point, plenty of teams are likely content to blackball him because of the protest. However, I do think there are some teams that genuinely don’t think he fits as a QB option. He’s been far from a perfect quarterback, so to completely ignore the football side of things would be foolish. He can do some things really well, but he has some areas where he has not shown improvement.
That being said, something does seem to be up. Some people have suggested maybe he wants too much money, or maybe he is not content to be a backup. If that’s true, so be it. The problem with that argument is we have not read or heard a single leak suggesting that to be the case. There has not been a single report of Kaepernick’s representatives speaking with another team. There have been no reports of any teams considering him as an option. If that issue had arisen, I don’t see how we wouldn’t have heard about it in some kind of media report.
And so, Colin Kaepernick remains sidelined for the foreseeable future while quarterbacks like Nick Foles and Geno Smith get more chances. Injuries or something else might happen to change that between now and the start of the 2017 regular season. I personally would not be surprised if we don’t see him back on an NFL field again.