The Colin Kaepernick Juggernaut

After a shaky start to his second season under that giant $126 million contract, Colin Kaepernick doesn’t look like the quarterback that Jim Harbaugh was hoping to coach through 2020. Of course, Kaepernick was hoping that Harbaugh would be coaching him through 2020, or even 2015.

Through seven games this season, the disastrous 49ers hold a record of 2-5. The starting quarterback who once lead them to a Super Bowl — and one play away from back-to-back appearances — is struggling with 1,453 yards, 6 touchdowns, 5 interceptions, and a 53.04 QBR. The 27-year-old quarterback is hearing it all from fans and the media. Jay Glazer of Fox Sports reported that Kaepernick is “on an island” in the 49ers locker room because his confidence is at an all-time low. Everything he’s done so far this season has been scrutinized and picked apart, but when he has played well (Minnesota, New York, Baltimore, Pittsburgh) nobody wants give him any credit.

The expectations for Kaepernick couldn’t be any higher on a team that wasn’t expected to do anything this season besides lose games. When a professional sports team begins to go down hill, somebody needs to be the face of blame. Last season it was their head coach, Jim Harbaugh, and this season it looks like everything will fall on Kaepernick’s shoulders. Kaepernick hasn’t played great by any means, but you can’t make it a season where he plays for his own job because they’ve been horrible at every position.

It was only 2 seasons ago when Colin Kaepernick was 18 yards away  from leading his 49ers team back to the Super Bowl — where he came within arguably two defensive holding calls from winning it — but instead he threw the interception that absolutely blew up the internet. After the play, and the help of Sherman’s post-game rant, fans thought Crabtree wasn’t a credible wide receiver, Kaepernick would never become a great quarterback, and Sherman instantly became the greatest cornerback to ever walk the Earth. Okay, maybe one of those is an exaggeration, but people were certainly acting like it.

An underrated part of the whole debacle was that the commercial of the year instantly stopped running (for obvious reasons).

Kaepernick last week while struggling against Seattle, once again.
This was the camera shot that told me it was over for Kaepernick. I’ve believed in him from the get-go, but that face of defeat is a white flag. He looked disappointed and uninterested in returning to the game. So many times they showed him just staring off into space thinking about who knows what. It reminded me of my last high school football game — once you realized it was over, your emotions just collapsed — except it was Russell Wilson, once again, across the field tearing apart his team while Kaepernick knows he can’t do anything to prevent it. He’s watching his season and career go down the tubes. Like Jay Glazer said, lost all of his confidence and is “on an island”.

Honestly, this is one of the strangest things I’ve seen in my lifetime of watching sports. Colin Kaepernick has been an extended NFL version of what Jeremy Lin was. His rise to fame was so fast, yet his fall from relevance has been equal. The difference is that you just don’t see this happen in football, especially at quarterback. Kaepernick single-handedly transformed the identity of the 49ers during that 2012 season and dragged that team to the Super Bowl. He was penciled in as one of the next great quarterbacks and was primed to revolutionize the position.

LISTEN TO HOW THIS HALL OF FAME PANEL TALKS ABOUT HIM. IT’S COMICAL NOW:

After the interception that (emotionally) broke Kaepernick’s back, he positioned himself to prove to the remainder of the league that he wasn’t a fluke. He wanted to prove he was capable of playing for years in this league as a successful quarterback. Well, as you’ve seen, that hasn’t been the case. Ever since Sherman went wild, Kaepernick is stuck, bogged down, with his career in jeopardy.

It’s unlikely the remainder of the season will even hint at going smoothly for Kaepernick. His best days are likely behind him and he’ll read thousands of “reports” and trade rumors that mention his name throughout his remaining weeks in the Bay Area.

In my opinion, the problems for the 49ers started and ended with Colin Kaepernick’s contract. The entire idea of the contract is that it’s only guaranteed against injury, and the moment that ink went to paper, Kaepernick was handcuffed. The reason why Kaepernick was unlike anybody else in the league is because of his athleticism, so how can you not let him escape the pocket, roll out, or take off down field? His legs are his biggest strength and San Francisco’s front office wants to transform him into a pocket passer that limits his rushing attempts, along with his chance of injury. Isn’t that exactly what Alex Smith brought to the table? Smith showed for years that he wouldn’t be capable of shifting that team into contention like Kaepernick did within only a few games.

I believe in an attempt to save their money and preserve their franchise quarterback, Trent Baalke and Jed York have brainwashed the mindset of the most physically talented QB, maybe ever (also acceptable: Michael Vick, Cam Newton). I don’t think you can “fix” Kaepernick as long as he remains on his current roster. He’s lost his confidence and lost the mojo he was once glittered with when he’d stroll into endzones like a stallion crossing the finish line.

Colin Kaepernick won’t ever be the great pocket passer that Baalke is hoping for, but who’re they going to trade for, or even draft that is more talented than Kaep? Sure, you can play the lottery and hope you hit on a quarterback that’s a “can’t miss”, but that process could take years. Not to mention the extra time it’d take to develop that guy until he’s ready to be a contending quarterback. Players spend their whole careers trying to reach the games that Colin has already played in. It’s just weird. I know a few Green Bay fans that still have nightmares from Kaepernick running all over the Packers  during those playoff games. He made it look effortless. He looked like a youth quarterback running away from a defense that was scared of him. He doesn’t play with that confidence anymore and it’s noticeable.

Ever since he singed his contract, any naked eye can see that Kaepernick hasn’t played to the level that he once did. Call it a coincidence, call if karma for the contract tattoo, say the league caught on, or maybe Kaepernick really was Jeremy Lin 2.0. Maybe Kaepernick was never any good. Kaepernick has always been unique — tattoos, rocket speed, how he dresses, etc. — maybe it’s best he finds a team that’ll allow him to use his unique ability and creativity before it dries up.

 

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