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Golden Nuggets: A look back at Colin Kaepernick’s time with the 49ers

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Mat Barrows and David Lombardi of The Athletic did a deep-dive on Kap’s time in the Bay Area

Colin Kaepernick has been talked about a lot over the recent weeks. With police brutality, and racial inequality at the forefront of the discussions, many people are referring back to Kaepernick’s protest during the 2016 NFL season.

While his name has been tied more to activism than football over the past few years, Kaepernick was at one time considered an up-and-coming superstar in the NFL. Some people question why he has not had another opportunity in the league since his time in the Bay Area wrapped up, while others say he simply isn’t good enough anymore.

Matt Barrows and David Lombardi of The Athletic did an excellent, in-depth piece on Kapernick’s performance while he was the quarterback of the Niners from 2012 through 2016. Barrows and Lombardi looked at seven points that defined the Kaepernick era, including: his presence in the locker room, the media attention the protest drew, Kap’s contractual saga, his surgeries and vegan diet, the deteriorating San Francisco squad, Kap’s role in the ugly 2015 and 2016 seasons, and the overall picture.

One interesting comparison Barrows and Lombardi looked at Kapernick and Blaine Gabbert’s underlying numbers during the 2015 and 2016 season. The data shows Gabbert was the better QB in 2015, when he averaged more yards per passing and rushing attempts, and also a higher completion percentage over expectation. That flipped in 2016 when Chip Kelly took over as head coach. Kaepernick was better than Gabbert in every category, but the team struggled to a 2-14 record.

Here is what Barrows and Lombardi had to say:

“Kaepernick’s play from 2012-14 suggests he can be, at the very least, an above-average NFL starter. His decline in 2015-16 dampened this prospective outlook. But a closer look at the intricacies behind that 2016 season — including that late-season improvement — suggests that Kaepernick can at least bring real value and experience to a backup QB role. And if Kaepernick lands such a job, perhaps a fresher and stronger body can propel him to a starting spot.”

The article goes into great detail about tail-end of Kaepernick’s time with the team. When general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan took over prior to the 2017 season, it marked the time for a new chapter, and the new regime decided it was time to move on.

Kaepernick is 32 years old, and has been out of the league for three years. With NFL commissioner Roger Goodell saying the league will not stop players from protesting, some think it may open the door for a Kapernick return.

San Francisco was one of the worst franchises in football during Kaepernick’s final two years, so he wasn’t exactly in a position to succeed.

Either way, it will be interesting to see if a team will take a flyer on him going into training camp. He may not be good enough to earn a starting role, but with so many teams having bad quarterbacks on their roster —such as Blake Bortles— he should definitely be given a tryout.


On to some more links:

The expectations are high for Javon Kinlaw going into his rookie year. NBC Bay Area’s Alex Didion says Kinlaw could the 49ers’ X factor going into the 2020 season.

Lynch and co. will have some difficult decisions to make next offseason when it comes to the 49ers cap situation. Kyle Madson of Niners Wire breaks down the 12 players with the highest cap hit on the Niners roster.

San Francisco lost Joe Woods from the coaching staff after the 2019 season. Fansided’s Peter Panacy looks at three more 49ers’ coaches who could be gone next year.

Defensive lineman Ronald Blair hasn’t been able to stay healthy during his short NFL career. David Bonilla of 49ers Web Zone wrote a piece on how far Blair has come since tearing his ACL last season.

ESPN came up with its All-Big 10 team using current NFL players. To no one’s surprise, two 49ers are on the list. (h/t Didion)

Lynch has had a busy offseason retooling the roster for another run at the Super Bowl. Madson of Niners Wire gives his thoughts on the GM’s six best moves leading up to the 2020 season.