It feels like about time that I cast a jaundiced eye in the direction of the San Francisco 49ers once again. And in the current state of things, that means essentially kibitzing about the quarterback situation.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re aware that one-time potential superstar Colin Kaepernick had a rough season last year. Halfway through the campaign, he was replaced by a seriously mediocre Blaine Gabbert and during the off-season he has undergone shoulder surgery, rendering his future with the team more than somewhat questionable. On top of that, the Niners have hired a new head coach in Chip Kelly, whose offensive mindset is very much aligned with Colin’s strengths. Say what you will about Kap, he is among the top two or three quarterbacks in the NFL, when evaluated based on athleticism. His arm is a cannon. His legs are like helicopter blades. In general he fits very well into the kind of spread offense Kelly has always championed.
So it would seem a good fit. The problem is, Kap appears to be in a bit of a bad mood. Several weeks ago, it was widely reported that he had demanded to be traded, was no longer interested in being in San Francisco, and was just unhappy. For a short time, it seemed like the Denver Broncos might give him a new home, one in which he would also have been well-suited to the head coach’s offensive strategies. But the Broncos were unwilling to part with anything higher than a mid-level draft choice, which the Niners apparently concluded wasn’t sufficient compensation. So an April 1 deadline which resulted in the QB’s receiving close to $12 million in guaranteed payments, came and went.
Speculation then became rampant that the Niners would draft a quarterback in the college draft. They did not. Which seemed to indicate, at least to some of us, that they were in fact going to be happy with Kap at least for the 2015 season.
Today, it appears that, whether or not Kap returns as the starter or rides the bench in the second or third position, the team wants to place its future bets on Gabbert. Which, to me, means that they are taking seriously the clear truth that they are going to be in rebuilding mode for the next two or three seasons. Gabbert is not the kind of guy you build a playoff contender around. It’s not even clear he’s a decent day-to-day quarterback in the NFL.
Interestingly, former superstar quarterback Joe Montana, in a recent interview, suggested that the potential for breaking this logjam lies with Kap himself. According to him, Colin is a quiet guy who does not communicate much with his fellow players or with the coaching staff and management. This sense of isolation makes it difficult for him to overcome any obstacles or disagreements or disappointments that may arise between him and other parts of the organization. So it might be argued that the situation is entirely in Kap’s control. Get an attitude adjustment, open up to your fellow players and your coaches, and pitch in to build a decent season for a rebuilding team.
Call me a pessimist, but I’m not inclined to believe that that scenario has any likelihood of happening. Rather, I fully expect the Niners will blindly ignore a man who is easily the best quarterback on the roster in the interest of protecting the egos of those in the front office who have consistently in recent years demonstrated their impatience with anyone who doesn’t conform to their ring-kissing demands. This can only serve to prolong the rebuilding time for the team.
The best possible outcome I see for 2015 would be for the Niners simply to cut Kap and let him find a new home where his athleticism will be appreciated and where his skills fit the offensive scheme. Short of that, this season could ruin the career of otherwise perfectly capable signal-caller who deserves much better.