While speculation swirls around the fate of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2017, here are 5 reasons why the 49ers must and will part ways with their embattled quarterback sooner rather than later:
1.) Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers are cleaning house. There is a difference between a rebuild and cleaning house, and by all estimations so far, Shanahan and Lynch appear to be cleaning house and that house cleaning cannot be complete without letting Kap walk. A lot of bleeding heart Kap supporters decry the notion that the 49ers would be better off without Kap, citing his improved play over the course of the 2016 season. But those same supporters don’t seem to get that cleaning house is not necessarily about merit. Look no further than the 49ers decision to part ways with long-time, beloved equipment manager Steve Urbaniak as concrete evidence. Changing the equipment manager will have no effect on the product on the field but Shanahan let go of Urbaniak to bring in his own equipment manager because sometimes a regime changes personnel just to have their own guys — and make no mistake about it, Kap is not one of Shanahan’s guys.
2.) Kap is ready for a change of scenery. We’ve described before how Kap’s newfound activism over the past year and new look seem to be part of him forming a new identity, and you better believe he will skip town in a heartbeat if an NFL QB opportunity presents itself elsewhere, for no other reason alone than his desire to start fresh in his new personae and get away from a franchise that lost him when they lost Harbaugh. Sure, Kap may be kicking the tires with Lynch and Shanahan but those actions are to be expected from a player who is passing his prime and not sure about his realistic chances to ever start in the NFL again. But actions speak louder than words, and Kap has already sold his Bay Area home and bought a condo in NYC, motioned to change agents and is rumored to have already decided to opt out come March.
3.) Kap brings too much baggage to allow for a fresh start and culture. Whether you agree or disagree with Kap’s public protest of social issues, one cannot argue that he has become a lightning rod for controversy, and this is not conducive to starting a fresh, new culture. Based on the hypothesis that his seeking a new, political identity corresponded with a perceived decline in his football identity, taken together with his contemplating going to graduate school and his age of 29, one should expect that the likelihood of him being distracted from football is higher rather than lower as he gets older and his physical skills decline. Why would you take this on if you are the new coach or general manager of a franchise that badly needs a makeover?
4.) Kap does not fit well into Shanahan’s mold for an ideal quarterback. Shanahan’s historic offensive season with Atlanta was with a pure-throwing, pocket-passing, non-mobile quarterback in Matt Ryan and Kyle has historically heaped praise on pocket passers who could throw the deep ball with accuracy such as Matt Ryan or Joe Flacco. Let’s be completely honest, even at his prime Kaepernick was known for his mobility and down-graded for his deep ball accuracy, pocket passing skills and ability to read defenses. Based on history, Kap is not a good fit for Shanahan’s offense. Here’s what Kyle looks for in a QB:
[…]a guy who is just a pure, natural thrower [and] born to do that and who is definitely smart enough to handle it all and to keep his eyes downfield and a guy who is tough and hangs in the pocket and is really fearless […]
5.) The time has passed for for Colin Kaepernick to develop into a franchise quarterback in the NFL. One can point to 16 TDs to 4 INTs all day long, but it does nothing to dispel the reality that those numbers emerged by Kap playing in a low-risk, simplified Chip Kelly offense that was often playing catch up. Seriously, how many of those TDs started off as screen passes to Carlos Hyde or intermediate routes to Vance McDonald? At the end of the day, Kap has still not proven he can sit in the pocket, read a defense quickly and swiftly deliver the ball with accuracy to a down-field receiver. And you think this is going to get better after he turns 30? At the end of the 2016 season, Colin Kaepernick finished with a DYAR (Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement) of -149 which ranked 30 out of 34 QBs, DVOA ( Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) of -17.7% which ranked 30 out of 34 QBs and had a QBR of 55.2 which ranked 23rd out of 34 QBs.
At the end of the day, one can just myopically focus on the 16TD/4INT ratio or say his poor performance was because of his teammates, but at this point the Kaepernick apologists still seem to be most motivated by pushing back on the backlash he got for his anthem protest. Because if one steps back and looks at the big picture, it’s easy to see why the 49ers are and should be done with Kap.