San Francisco 49ers: Where in the World is Colin Kaepernick?

Jan 3, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) walks on the field before the start of the game against the St. Louis Rams at Levi
Jan 3, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) walks on the field before the start of the game against the St. Louis Rams at Levi /

Like the next chapter in an ongoing soap opera, the Colin Kaepernick and San Francisco 49ers saga continues.

Over the past few months, the biggest topic of discussion around the San Francisco 49ers has been the future of former starting quarterback, and former “superstar in the making” Colin Kaepernick. The 49ers’ start to the free agency period, which to this point includes the re-signing of nose tackle Ian Williams and signing of former Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback Thad Lewis, hasn’t done much to shift that conversation.

Kaepernick’s roster status has not changed during that period; he is still a 49er. The perception around his future with the team, however, has bounced around more than a driver not wearing a seatbelt on a pothole-infested road. The initial thought was that the team would outright cut their beleaguered quarterback, saving some money and turning their attention towards a signal-caller that they can consider a piece to build around.

That quickly changed at the NFL Combine, when 49ers’ general manager Trent Baalke announced that Kaepernick wouldn’t be cut by April 1st, at which point his 2016 salary of $11.9 million becomes fully guaranteed. The announcement was met with good reviews from new 49ers’ head coach Chip Kelly, who said he’s “excited to work with” the 28-year-old Kaepernick. He would also go on to say that Kaepernick has “never expressed…that he doesn’t want to be here [with the 49ers]”.

That should have been a good sign for Kaepernick and the 49ers. Kelly has the type of system that would allow a quarterback with Kaepernick’s skillset to flourish, and maybe get the signal-caller’s career back on track. Instead, news came out the very next day that Kaepernick’s agents had requested a trade away from the 49ers and their new man in charge, as per Rand Getlin
of the NFL Network.

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Immediately the perception shifted back towards “Kaepernick won’t be a 49er next season”, but as of writing this at 11:42 PM on Thursday night, that trade hasn’t occurred. The interest is there, as the Denver Broncos (who are now in dire need of a quarterback), the Cleveland Browns (who are always in dire need of a quarterback), and the New York Jets (who have a need as well) have emerged as potential suitors for the disgruntled quarterback.

The Broncos had a quarterback competition last season, as old veteran Peyton Manning struggled but remained that the starting quarterback in their Super Bowl win as young up-and-comer Brock Osweiler sat and watched after making seven starts during the season. Manning rode off into the sunset as he retired a Super Bowl champion, and Osweiler took a huge contract from the Houston Texans, worth $72 million over four years (a monster deal for a QB with seven career starts), and suddenly the Broncos are quarterback-less.

The Browns have their own quarterback issues with perennial troublemaker Johnny Manziel probably on the way out (but like Kaepernick, is still in limbo). They are projected to take North Dakota State passer Carson Wentz with the second-overall pick in the draft. The Jets will need a quarterback if they can’t re-sign last season’s starter Ryan Fitzpatrick.

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So where is Kaepernick going? Is he going anywhere? These are questions that no one has an answer to, probably including the guys who make those decision.

The 49ers are reportedly remaining steadfast with their demands for a trade, and it doesn’t appear that they are close to a deal just yet to send him away. If a trade does happen, it may be the best thing for both parties. A fresh start in a new city could possibly be the best thing for Kaepernick, and focusing their efforts on other areas would be good for the 49ers.

The problem with the 49ers is, one hand has no idea what the other is doing. And at this point, no one can really blame Kaepernick for not wanting to be around Baalke and Jed York, and not wanting to be a part of the 49ers’ organization anymore, if that is the case. He’s been yo-yoed back and forth constantly, and his future with the team is just as unclear as ever.

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But soon, the saga just needs to end. The 49ers have to make a decision on where in the (NFL) world Kaepernick will be come next season. Who knows, maybe that will happen by the time we all wake up in the morning.