Colin Kaepernick is no Aaron Rodgers. Or Cam Newton. Or Russell Wilson. He’s not one of the best quarterbacks in the league. In fact, he’s not even close to that. The 49ers could cut Kaepernick based solely on his production – or lack thereof. But throw in a national controversy that has people questioning his – and the 49ers’ – patriotism, and you’ve got a sticky situation in San Fran.
Could Kaepernick’s protest affect his future with the Niners?
“Well, I mean, I’m sure it does to some degree,” CBS Sports NFL insider Jason La Canfora said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “It’s being talked about around the league and around the country and, I guess to some degree, around the world. It’s part of sort of the Colin Kaepernick package. He said he’s not standing anytime soon. It’s something clearly they’re going to have to deal with as an organization. Does it expedite his demise there? I guess it could to some degree. I don’t anticipate they do anything immediate with this.”
Of course, even without Kaepernick’s protest, Blaine Gabbert was expected to start in Week 1 when the Niners host the Los Angeles Rams on Monday Night Football.
“Look, he wasn’t going to be the starting quarterback anyway,” La Canfora said. “He’s sort of the backup quarterback, which I guess cuts two ways. One is, well, he’s not even really playing, so whatever. The other side of it is well, wait a minute, we’ve got to deal with all this and he’s not even playing? He’s holding a clipboard? So I guess we’ll just have to see how Gabbert plays and what their other options are and what happens if he gets a chance to play. But he has constitutional rights to free speech and he’s expressing them, and they as an organization – and the league on the whole – has to be careful about protected speech.”
They also have to be mindful of locker room division. The players apparently held a team meeting in which Kaepernick explained what he was doing and why. He answered questions and told teammates he would be happy to speak with them individually about his protest. Several Niners said the meeting was very beneficial.
Still, not everyone agrees with Kaepernick or is happy that he is protesting in this manner.
“Certainly not everyone is going to have one mindset on this,” La Canfora said. “Not everyone is going to be in lockstep about what it means, so there’s going to be some differing opinions for sure. They’ve got bigger problems there. They’ve got to learn to win some football games, they’ve got to try to change the culture, they’ve got to figure out and buy into what Chip Kelly is selling, and they’ve got to win their fan base back over because people there have kind of turned on ownership a little bit. There’s not a whole lot of trust between the fans and the owners. They got to find a way to put fannies in the seat because people don’t want to drive to Santa Clara for a losing proposition with that football team. So in the grand scheme of things in terms of what they need to do as a business model, as a football team in terms of winning games, they’ve got plenty on their plate already.
“Look, if they stink, and I think they’re going to stink, they’re not going to stink because certain guys think Colin Kaepernick should stand for the national anthem,” La Canfora continued. “That would be a cop-out or an excuse. The roster isn’t that good. There’s a lot of work that has to be done that has nothing to do with whatever people may or may not think about what the backup quarterback is doing.”