Colin Kaepernick is still floating on the free agent list this NFL offseason, and that continues to surprise some of his former teammates in San Francisco. While players like Matt Barkley and Matt McGloin are being signed by NFL franchises, there appear to be no bites on the lure for the former Pro Bowl and NFC Champion quarterback.
“I am surprised,” running back Carlos Hyde said, according to ESPN. “I’ve seen some quarterbacks [that] got signed that Kap is way better than, in my opinion. But I’m not a GM. I’m not a head coach. So that’s out of my league.”
Players will tend to take the side of other players more often than not, especially when those players are former teammates. And when that teammate is generally well-liked in the locker room, comments like the ones shared by Hyde are no surprise at all. But Hyde is not the only 49ers seeing a former teammate still floating in the free agent waters. Of course, everybody knows there is something else attached to Kaepernick that may be influencing his situation at this time: his decision to take a knee during the national anthem last season. Via ESPN:
“I think he’s proven that he can play at this level,” 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman said. “He’s made a choice that’s kind of had a little backlash from it, but I think he’ll be fine.”
“Someone will give him a job,” Bowman said. “He’s not like a bad guy or anything. So I think that’s what matters in the NFL, if you can play at this level and your character is great. So I wish him the best.”
Kaepernick has taken plenty of heat for his anthem protests since he first made the decision to kneel. Even though Kaepernick has said he will not continue that form of protest, he is still stuck in the offseason without a place to call home, for now.
Kaepernick’s situation is not entirely unique. Also sitting idle in free agency is Jay Cutler. Cutler’s best days may be behind him, but both Cutler and Kaepernick are likely to have some phone calls and offers as the offseason progresses and training camps start to open. Teams need quarterbacks, and the price tag for each will go down over time, making them more intriguing options for a handful of NFL franchises in need of an arm.
One person seemingly unsurprised by Kaepernick’s unemployment is new 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan. Shanahan has said before he thinks it is a complex situation when a new head coach comes in with a new offensive system and a quarterback who does not seem to fit that mold. That makes sense. If Shanahan has an offensive system designed for one type of quarterback and Kaepernick doesn’t fit that mold, why should the 49ers spend money on him?
“You can’t practice everything. You can’t be great at everything. You’ve kind of got to commit to something and do it over and over and over again and once the type of running game or dropback game, you’re going to commit to one quarterback is completely different than the other, then that does affect your team.
Shanahan added: “That’s why I think it can be harder when those type of guys are going through competitions and stuff like that, because even though you’re trying to find the best guy, by trying to be fair to those quarterbacks, you’re also being unfair to a team.”
The 49ers have signed Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley this offseason in hopes they can run the offense the way Shanahan, who previously worked with Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons, envisions. But I suppose if Hoyer and Barkley disappoint, the 49ers could always make a phone call to Kaepernick if he’s still available.