What are the 49ers Doing With Colin Kaepernick?

The 49ers aren't letting Kaepernick throw a football because he's "fatigued," whatever that means.

by Mike Vorkunov
Aug 18 2016, 5:45pm

John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

There's something weird going on with Colin Kaepernick in San Francisco. He went a whole week without throwing a football during training camp this month, for one thing, and as he's a quarterback that is kind of a big deal. He's not hurt, either.

No, he's "fatigued." That's the word Niners general manager Trent Baalke used. Which is kind of an interesting term of art—or semantic BS, depending on which side of the dispute you're on—that you might use when you don't want to pay someone.

That's the thing about this Kaepernick affair. It probably comes down to money. The Niners are entering the Chip Kelly era and it looks like Blaine Gabbert could actually be their starting quarterback, on purpose. This is a pretty big drop for Kaepernick, who at one point was the face of the next wave of great, mobile QBs. It's a long way from the top of that list to a spot behind Blaine Gabbert on a losing team's depth chart. It's some consolation, probably, that Kaepernick is still getting paid a lot of money. And according to, describing Kaepernick's excused absence in these specific medical terms has a certain value to it.

"The GM dismissed suggestions that San Francisco is angling to keep Kaepernick sidelined all season to prevent further injury, which would guarantee the quarterback's $14.5 million salary."

Which is reminiscent of what Washington did last year in keeping Robert Griffin III out of any possible harm that could have gotten him injured and forced them to guarantee his contract.

The Niners, however, don't seem as desperate to get rid of Kaepernick as Washington was to get rid of RGIII. Also, it sure doesn't seem like Gabbert could be Kirk Cousins. So perhaps he really is "fatigued," and that when he gets his stamina back he'll start practicing again. Perhaps he could play again this year and help Kelly get his first year in San Francisco going right. It's just that the Niners haven't done much to lend much credence to that theory. And Kaepernick hasn't been good in a while, either, which doesn't help him much. This could get messy before it's all over, but there will be an end. It may not clear up before then, but it will at least be clear when the end of the Kaepernick era in San Francisco officially arrives.