No matter who you side with in the Colin Kaepernick controversy, the San Francisco 49ers have a significant business decision to make with the once-highly-thought-of quarterback. And that choice may very well involve cutting ties with Kaepernick when the team trims its roster down to 53 by the fast-approaching deadline.
“Regardless of politics or not, he has a very, very big uphill battle to make this team,” NFL insider Jay Glazer told Pro Football Talk. “I’d be shocked if he’s on the 49ers by the time this season ends.”
“It has nothing to do with political views whatsoever. He lost a ton of weight this offseason, had three surgeries, couldn’t work out, lost that double threat, that size-speed ratio. No political views, he just hasn’t been effective. He’s regressing as a player. I’d be shocked if he’s on this roster by the end of this year. He may not be on it in the next two weeks.”
While Glazer left the door open for San Francisco to keep Kaepernick around for the 2016 campaign, he pretty much slammed it shut on the beleaguered QB sticking around beyond this season.
What may keep Kaepernick in San Francisco this year is the $11.9 million guaranteed for his contract in 2016. But the team benched him for a guy thought to be a total bust not too long ago in Blaine Gabbert, and they do have both Christian Ponder (another former first-round bust) and Jeff Driskel on the roster at QB.
It was thought that new head coach Chip Kelly could reinvigorate Kaepernick’s career after the quarterback had San Francisco one score away from winning the Super Bowl not all that long ago. Though Kelly maintained on Friday that there has “never been a conversation about cutting Colin Kaepernick,” according to Bay Area News Group’s Cam Inman, it’s hard to believe that’s still the case given the uproar his recent political protests have caused.
By the numbers, it’s easy to see why San Francisco would choose to move on from a player they have paid a tremendous amount of money to for very little production in recent years. Not only was he benched in favor of Gabbert last season, but Kaepernick was also on pace for his worst statistical campaign since his second year in the league in nearly every category. The fact that this down year coincided with his first campaign under the enormous six-year, $114 million deal San Francisco signed him to prior to last season only exacerbated the problem of Kaepernick’s weak play.
The fall has been rapid for the San Francisco 49ers in recent years, and Kaepernick certainly hasn’t been the only reason behind it. Early retirements of linebackers Chris Borland and All-Pro Patrick Willis certainly hurt, while offensive tackle Anthony Davis also called it quits at age 25 last offseason. Even the expected retirement of veteran Justin Smith, which took the total of retirees to four last offseason, helped weigh San Francisco down a year ago. Losing Frank Gore only solidified a changing of the culture for the team a year ago and not in a good way.
So while even the Sacramento Bee believes that Gabbert will be the San Francisco starter over Kaepernick this season, it’s still hard to pinpoint where it all unraveled for the QB. In fact, it may be cornerback Richard Sherman who began the downfall of Kaepernick in San Francisco with a tipped pass which produced the game-clinching interception in the end zone of the 2014 NFC Championship game.
He may have vowed to continue to sit during the national anthem, but it’s hard to know what uniform Kaepernick will be wearing while doing so if San Francisco decides to move on from him.
[Photo by Ben Margot/ AP Images]