Colin Kaepernick has been in the news a lot lately, mostly due to his protest of the national anthem. What’s been lost in the drama is the fact he has not played well at quarterback for the 49ers.
OK, so he’s only had one preseason game to acclimate himself to coach Chip Kelly’s system thanks to injury, but the result was ugly. The sixth-year signal caller completed 2 of 6 passes for 14 yards and ran four times for 18 yards. He looked skittish in the pocket, made poor decisions with the football and didn’t appear to be all that explosive when he took off.
As one rival pro scouting director observed, both Blaine Gabbert and Jeff Driskel have a superior command of the 49ers offense, via Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com. Just look at how much longer it takes Kaepernick to get the plays off in Kelly’s famously uptempo offense.
“When Kap was in the game, it slowed down — significantly,” said the director. “I mean, it slowed down by 10 seconds (per play). And that indicates he’s not comfortable getting them to the line, operating the offense the way they want him to do it. And it indicates the time he missed is costing him.”
Breer goes so far as to make the case this is reason enough for the 49ers to consider moving on from Kaepernick.
“And that’s why I’d tell you, at this point, I think the Niners should just cut him. They’re paying him $11.9 million over the next four months no matter what. And if he were to get hurt to the point where he couldn’t pass a physical next April 1, the Niners would be on the hook for another $14.5 million (his 2017 base).”
It’s actually an excellent point, and one the 49ers no doubt will at least ponder. Breer points to the situation that played out with Robert Griffin III in Washington last year as an example of why it doesn’t make sense to keep a player on the roster only to deactivate him all year.
At the same time, Kaepernick missed extensive time during the offseason as well as plenty of practices during training camp due to recovery from surgery to his throwing shoulder. To expect him to be up to speed at this point in the year is unrealistic, perhaps even unfair.
Although it’s not as if Kaepernick struggling is a new issue. Last season, he completed 59.0 percent of his passes with a 6.6 average per attempt and six touchdowns to five interceptions in nine games. His efficiency rating has dipped every year since taking over the starting job in San Francisco. At some point, one has to wonder if he’ll ever get better.