San Francisco 49ers: Colin Kaepernick Working Hard To Repair Tarnished Image

Jun 8, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) throws the ball during minicamp at the San Francisco 49ers Practice Facility. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 8, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) throws the ball during minicamp at the San Francisco 49ers Practice Facility. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports /

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, after seeing seen his stock take a huge nose dive, appears to be working hard to repair his tarnished image – but does he have an ulterior motive?

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Colin Kaepernick, the one time quarterback of the future for the San Francisco 49ers, has seen his stock plummet over. Once upon a time – having led the 49ers to two consecutive NFC Championship games and one Super Bowl – he was the face of the franchise. But after a couple of down years, being benched, a trade demand, and a generally surly demeanor, Kaepernick has seen his public image take a beating and has seen his standing in the locker room take a big hit.

Yet today, Kaepernick is singing a different tune. According to him, he’s happy to be a 49er and is “excited to work with Chip (Kelly) and his coaching staff.” It seems to be quite the remarkable turnaround for somebody who has a terribly contentious relationship with the franchise’s front office and who, as recently as a month ago or so, wanted out of the Bay Area – sooner rather than later. The sudden change of heart in Kaepernick practically begs the question – does he have ulterior motives for this amazing change in attitude?

Perhaps, it is just as simple as Kaepernick tried to force the team to deal him, his gambit didn’t work out, so he’s just dealing with it and making the best of his situation. Perhaps, it’s that he really enjoys his time in the Bay Area. Perhaps, he really connected with Chip Kelly and thinks the offense he runs is well suited to him and can help him revive his career.

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Or perhaps there is another reason for Kaepernick’s sudden change of heart and change in attitude. Perhaps, he’s suddenly all-in with Kelly because he needs to appear to be a good teammate, strong leader, and somebody well worth throwing a few draft picks away to obtain.

It was widely believed that one of the initial hold ups to the Kaepernick to Denver deal – a deal that was covered exhaustively, yet never materialized – was that John Elway and the Broncos weren’t willing to throw a second round pick at San Francisco for the chance to acquire Kapernick.

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Maybe it was the fact that Kaepernick has had a couple of down seasons that hurt his trade value and made Denver unwilling to risk that pick. But you have to think that Kaepernick’s demeanor and the characterization that Jay Glazer laid out of the quarterback being alone, “on an island” in the locker room, played into that. If only a little.

The quarterback is the leader of the offense. He’s the guy the team looks to for guidance, calm, and – well – leadership, of course. Blaine Gabbert – the man who supplanted Kaepernick in the starting line up – certainly seems to grasp that concept.

Despite being a bust with the Jaguars, Gabbert landed in San Francisco and last year, took over for the wildly ineffective, horribly underperforming Kaepernick. Since taking over the starter’s role, Gabbert has forged real connections with his teammates – especially with the offensive line charged with protecting him.

Gabbert has done such a good job at promoting himself, he’s widely viewed as the presumptive starter heading into the 2016 season – and yet, he didn’t play all that much better than Kaepernick did last year. The difference is in their attitudes. Gabbert has been positive, upbeat, and a team-first guy. Kaepernick is quiet, stays to himself, or as Jay Glazer put it last year, is alone “on an island” in that locker room.

"“Usually when your quarterback, he’s struggling confidence-wise, the entire locker room, they pick him. That’s not his relationship in there. It’s not like they don’t like him, but he’s just alone, on an island inside that locker room. There’s not a lot of people he connects with that try and pick him back up.”"

Kaepernick is apparently learning from Gabbert in that he’s appearing more upbeat and rather than terse, one word answers to the media – according to ESPN, Kaepernick once had a media session in which he answered 32 questions with just 83 total words – he’s engaging in actual dialogue with them.

San Francisco 49ers
Jun 8, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Blaine Gabbert (2) throws the ball with quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) during minicamp at the San Francisco 49ers Practice Facility. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports /

Illustrating that point is that in a recent media outing, Kaepernick recently held an 18 minute Q&A session with reporters. It has been reported that about midway through Kaepernick’s unexpected generosity with his time, one of the coaching staff stepped in to end the Q&A only to be turned away by Kaepernick who proceeded to answer all of the questions thrown his way.

Is it the reality of the situation – that Kaepernick is likely not leaving the Bay Area this year – that he is resigned to his fate and is choosing to make the best of it he can? Or is he perhaps, auditioning for another team, attempting to get them to see what a “changed man” he is, with the hope that might be willing to give up what the 49ers are asking for him in exchange.

The fact that he still has yet to say word one to GM Trent Baalke speaks volumes. You would have to believe that Kaepernick is still neither happy nor comfortable with an organization that, as its been suggested, leaked stories about the embattled quarterback in an attempt to smear his image.

Hey, it wouldn’t be the first time in happened – just ask Jim Harbaugh.

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For now though, Kaepernick is playing the part of good soldier. He’s doing what he needs to do and saying all the right things. And taken out of context perhaps, to hear him speak, he is all-in with Chip, is looking forward to the camp battle with Gabbert, and is just so gosh dark happy to be a 49er.

But at the end of the day, you have to wonder – is he doing it because he truly is happy to be a 49er? Or because he knows he’d be happier – far happier – in another team’s jersey?