Posted on August 18, 2016, by Travis Pulver
It wasn’t long ago that the San Francisco 49ers appeared to have the franchise quarterback of the future in Colin Kaepernick. That perception changed last season as he and the 49ers offense struggled. When he was put on the IR due to lingering shoulder soreness most assumed that his time by the Bay was done.
Then the team picked up his option in April and said he would be in an open competition for the quarterback job once he was healthy enough to participate again. But he has been on the sideline for most of camp doing absolutely nothing.
Kaepernick was held out of the preseason home opener last week with what was called shoulder soreness, but later referred to as “dead arm.” The condition of his arm was eventually amended to tired (or “fatigued”).
It seems hard to believe that after just a handful of practices, his arm would be so sour he had to stop throwing. He did have surgery to his non-throwing shoulder during the offseason, so maybe he hasn’t done much. Maybe going from next to no activity to the rigors of an NFL training camp was too much.
He was cleared in time for camp, so when it started he was healthy enough to play, but that doesn’t mean he was in shape to play.
So…what the heck is going on?
Kaepernick asked to be traded in the offseason, and the team tried to comply with his request, but the Denver Broncos were not willing to pay someone $12 million to compete for the starter’s job (and they certainly were not going to hand it to him).
With no trade partner and his $11.9 million salary already guaranteed, they had no option than to give him a shot at the job again. There was just one issue—everyone assumed he was the kind of guy Chip Kelly would love, but what if he isn’t? Kelly proved in Philadelphia that he has no trouble getting rid of people he feels are getting paid more than they are worth. If he sees Kaepernick as one of these guys, it doesn’t matter how well he plays in training camp (or how bad Gabbert plays).
However, even if Kelly doesn’t go for him, the team has to keep Kaepernick’s contract in mind. Kaepernick can earn up to $2 million in roster bonuses this season if he is on the active roster. Should he get seriously hurt, the team will be on the hook for his 2017 base salary ($14.5 million; injury guarantee) (FoxSports).
So if they play him now but he doesn’t play well enough to win the job, and he gets injured, the team is stuck paying a lame duck quarterback a lot of money for another year. Of course, if he plays and he is awesome again—great.
His “injury” could be a ploy to make sure he doesn’t get hurt before they can trade him. Now that football is being played again, should a team lose its starting quarterback, the 49ers will likely receive a phone call.
But no one trades for damaged goods.
However, if this is what is happening, you would think the Players Association would have a fit and demand he be released or allowed to legitimately compete for the job.