The San Francisco 49ers opened up their draft room to MMQB’s Peter King during the 2017 NFL draft, and it resulted in all sorts of insight about the organization. Plenty was positive, but there was a negative story that came out. King reported that sources in the 49ers organization told him they were not sure if Colin Kaepernick would rather do social justice work full time.
That led to a lengthy news cycle, and reflected on the 49ers previous period as a leaky organization. General manager John Lynch has repeatedly said he wants the organization to have transparency, and not have numerous leaks like we have seen over the past three years.
It appears he took a step to rectify the situation over the past month. Lynch made an appearance on PFT Live this week (video to come) and told Mike Florio he felt bad about the leaks. He said part of his job is controlling the information going out of the building, and wants to put an end to such leaks. He also said he spoke with Kaepernick about the report.
“I’ve talked with Colin and I’ve told him that I felt bad that if indeed that is contributing to that thought. The one thing that I knew from sitting with Colin when we had our opportunity to sit down and he ultimately opted out, we had a great discussion that stuck out with me that this is a guy who is really interested in getting back in this league and playing at the highest level. And I’ve talked to him since, and that very much is the case ...
“I want to put that to rest,” Lynch said. “I’m sorry that this came out of this building. That’s one of the challenges that I’m finding is controlling the message that comes out of your building. There’s so many people, and it’s hard to find because, ‘Sources this, sources that.’ I didn’t feel good about that and I’ve talked to Colin. That was what was most important to me, to talk to Colin directly and let him know that I was sorry that that did [come out] and that nothing else like that will come out of this building if I have anything to do with it. That’s where that is. We wish Colin the best and I can tell everybody out there he very much is sincere in his interest to get back in this league, and I hope it works out for him.”
Lynch once again confirmed that the 49ers would have released Kaepernick had he not opted out of his deal. I think most people in the NN comments understand that if Kaepernick did not opt out, the 49ers would have cut him. However, there are a host of people who still go to the “but he opted out of his contract” when criticizing Kaepernick.
The two sides met shortly after John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan were hired, and they discussed the offense and what the team has planned. It seemed pretty clear via Shanahan that Kaepernick was not likely going to be part of what they planned on doing in 2017.
“[Coach] Kyle [Shanahan] had a vision for what he wanted to do, and one thing I think Kyle was very clear and I think Colin appreciated, is that Kyle has an idea of how he’d play with Colin Kaepernick. But he preferred to run the exact offense that he ran in Atlanta last year that was record-breaking in this league. And if you change it for the quarterback, you change it for everybody on that offense. So he had a great discussion that I think gave Colin clarity, so we moved on. Brian Hoyer was one of the guys we pursued. Once we pursued him, we didn’t see Kaep as a backup that would really fit in that scheme and we communicated that to him.”
Kaepernick remains a free agent following a visit with the Seattle Seahawks. Every team is getting into OTAs at this point, with mandatory minicamp following to wrap up offseason workout programs in a couple weeks. Teams and players will go their separate ways at that point for five or six weeks before training camp arrives. If Kaepernick does not land somewhere before the end of the offseason workout program, any signing likely would not happen until a player gets hurt in training camp.
A team could decide at the end of the offseason workout program that they need another quarterback, but I would be surprised if he landed somewhere before late July at the earliest. And barring something working out with the Seahawks, I don’t see him landing anywhere unless a major injury happens to a starting quarterback.
In the meantime, it’s good to see that John Lynch appears to be addressing some of these issues head on. The 49ers have had a major problem with leaks dating back to the Harbaugh era. Lynch did not have to apologize to Kaepernick about this, but that kind of gesture at least shows Lynch is concerned about the problem. Ideally, he also laid down the hammer in discussions with the rest of the organization to keep a lid on things like this.