Most of the news during this NFL off-season as far as the 49ers are concerned has focused on the quarterback situation. One-time superstar darling Colin Kaepernick was benched near the end of the 2015 campaign, giving way to little-used backup Blaine Gabbert. Now, it’s fairly obvious to everyone that Gabbert is not a premium NF signal-caller. He doesn’t have the physical skill or the stats to earn that assessment.
The problem is, this is a very weak year for drafting quarterbacks out of college. And while it appears that Kaepernick is willing, even eager, to be traded, the Niners have not yet been able to put together a deal with a team that really needs him. The most recent rumors swirled around the Denver Broncos, who would find him a great fit for a number of reasons. But they were apparently only willing to part with a mid-round draft pick in return for the once stellar-performing Niners’ QB.
Given that the Niners have decided to go with the unproven, mediocre Chip Kelly as their new head coach, and given his offensive propensities, my guess is that Colin would be a great QB fit for the team. I don’t know where the impetus for the trade is coming from. It may be from Colin himself, which wouldn’t be surprising given the way the Niners have screwed his career. On the other hand, there were early rumors that the team really doesn’t think he’s worth the contract he now has, a contract which produced a hefty guaranteed payment on April 1.
I’m not inclined to participate in the speculation about what might happen to Colin. My considered opinion is that he had at one time the potential to be a well-above-average NFL quarterback (though I was angry over the trade of his predecessor, Alex Smith, and still am), but that he’s probably no longer in that class. Between switching offensive coordinators every season, and front-office turmoil — to say nothing of the 2015 personnel losses that have all but decimated the squad — he’s probably much better off finding greener grass. If I were him, I would certainly be leaning in that direction in the absence of a serious commitment on the part of the Niners. That’s a commitment current ownership and management seems unwilling to make.
About the only good news coming out of this mess is that the Niners have huge salary cap space. They should be in a position to shore up most of their needs, even if it costs them more money than they’d like to spend. With the draft only a little more than two weeks away, fantasy players and prognosticators are going crazy trying to create the mock draft that will get the Niners to a point of something close to respectability. My guess is that we’re at least two years from having a competitive team again, regardless of what the team does at quarterback. And that’s just going to have to be okay. We Niners’ fans became spoiled during the days and 90s; it’s time to suck it up and watch other teams enjoy success.