Colin Kaepernick Will Be Jed York’s Scapegoat


Colin Kaepernick, prior to the Seattle Seahawks’ 20-3 dismantling of his San Francisco 49ers onThursday Night Football, was featured in a CBS promo that starred him and Russell Wilson. The spot that aired painted a picture of Wilson and Kaepernick as the faces of their respective franchises.

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For Wilson, this means being the face of unprecedented success for a revitalized franchise. For Kaepernick, this means being the face of owner Jed York’s crusade against anything that threatens his personal agenda.

Admittedly, Kaepernick is not the great quarterback many thought he would be after he took the league by storm three years ago. He may never reach the level that even the most conservative analysts projected. But he’s far from the only or most glaring problem the San Francisco 49ers are dealing with right now.

Unfortunately for Kaepernick, as the star quarterback, the blame will rest on his shoulders. The national media loves the idea of quarterback controversies and pushes the narrative that Kaepernick is on thin ice. Some of it is warranted. For example, his first two pass attempts against the Arizona Cardinals in week three that were intercepted and returned for scores are on no one but himself. His inexplicable misses when targeting a wide open receiver are his own fault.

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The 49ers’ offensive woes start with the offensive line. ESPN’s Mark Schlereth described the O-line’s performance against Seattle as “pathetic” adding that they should feel “embarrassed.” Even the speedy and evasive Kaepernick can’t avoid the onslaught that his offensive line allows.

The 49ers just don’t have the talent on either side of the ball to compete. Defensively, the 49ers are not the juggernaut they were just a few years ago, to say the least. Too many starters and All-Pro talents were lost to free agency or (unexpected) retirements. Offensively, the few playmakers that are at Kaepernick’s disposal are hobbled.

Jan 15, 2015; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Tomsula (L) shakes hands with owner Jed York (R) in the locker room after a press conference for the introdution of Tomsula as the head coach at Levi

But everyone knew that this was going to be a bad football team. The sheer amount of talent lost is an insurmountable obstacle. But what the Niners have displayed throughout this abysmal season goes beyond being a bad football team; they’ve become one of the worst organizations in football. Losing is not just a harsh reality that a team with very little talent faces, rather it’s an acceptable circumstance perpetuated by poor leadership.

In the final minutes of the fourth quarter of a game that was already decided, unqualified head coach Jim Tomsula opted to punt on 4th-and-3. Understandably, the move was met with boos because honestly, what difference did it make at that point? Complacency with losing is far worse than going down swinging.

The 49ers are incompetent from top to bottom and no one is more at fault than York. Calling York an egomaniacal brat would be rude and unprofessional. Unfortunately, it’s not inaccurate either. Forcing out a coach of Jim Harbaugh‘s caliber because of personal pride is unacceptable. York continues to make football decisions when clearly he either doesn’t know how to or doesn’t care about making the right decisions. He prefers “yes men” over anyone willing to challenge his mighty authority.

Again, this goes beyond just the football team itself. York will take down and attack anyone that dares to oppose him. Restaurant owners, for example. Or honest media members. Or even seemingly innocuous statements on his team’s own website. In his effort to preserve the prestige of the 49ers name, he is pile-driving them to an all-time low.

York’s biggest flaw might not be his poor decision-making or his desire to carve out his own legacy, but rather it’s his inability to take responsibility for the state of the franchise that was gifted to him. He won’t apologize to the fans who figuratively and literally bought into the move into the expensive, “state-of-the-art” Levi’s Stadium–a stadium that can’t even figure out the problems with their turf. He won’t apologize to the fans that he alienated because of the move. And if he does face the media and apologizes, how much of it will be genuine?

York’s next target has already been picked out. Long before this season. Before last season, as well. When Kaepernick was given a “team-friendly” deal two summers ago that would allow the team to retain their stars and add additional pieces. Of course, that gives York and general manager Trent Baalke the freedom to cut ties with him whenever they please with no steep financial repercussions. Remember, Kaepernick was Harbaugh’s guy.

Kaepernick’s regression is in the public eye, constantly scrutinized by fans and analysts alike. But he was set up to fail. Without an offensive line, consistent receivers, and an offensive coordinator, his struggles seem even more glaring. He was set up to fail. And when changes come — and there will be change sooner than later — Kaepernick will be the first to walk the plank. Whether it’s a benching or a trade, York, Baalke, and Tomsula will answer everyone’s pleading to get Kaepernick off the field.

It’s only a matter of time before York turns on Tomsula and his coordinators too. He won’t do it right away. That would be an admission that he was wrong in hiring Tomsula in the first place. Running Harbaugh out of town only to fire his internal “solution” less than a year into his tenure? Not a good look. York most likely won’t relieve Tomsula — who shouldn’t have been hired in the first place — soon, but it will happen eventually.

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For now, Colin Kaepernick is the scapegoat. Already struggling, the quarterback has lost the support of fans and will soon lose the support of his own team. Every week, national media puts a countdown on Kaepernick’s time as a starter. All of York’s mistakes are placed on the shoulders of one of the few members of the 49ers’ organization willing to face the media and accept the blame — even taking responsibility for things out of his control.

Getting rid of Kaepernick won’t solve the San Francisco 49ers’ many problems, but he’s become the face of the turmoil because York has hidden himself.