Tom Sorensen

NFL franchises to notorious quarterback Colin Kaepernick: It’s not us, it’s you

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem on NFL sidelines a season ago. Now he’d just like one to stand on.
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem on NFL sidelines a season ago. Now he’d just like one to stand on. AP

Colin Kaepernick has the most famous knee in the NFL. It’s the knee on which he knelt last season while almost everybody else stood for the pregame national anthem.

It was a protest. He knew he’d be rocked by criticism and he was. Once a starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, Kaepernick is now looking for a job. The 32 franchises in the NFL have yet to offer one.

Early in Kaepernick’s career he looked as if he’d evolve into a genuine franchise NFL quarterback. He could move and he could throw and he appeared to be able to lead.

And then he stopped. He began to miss throws that most quarterbacks make.

His skill, I think, is undeniable. There’s concern that the league has black-balled him because he chose not to stand for the anthem. But he was entitled not to stand, and I can’t believe that the NFL is so petty that on that basis it would deny him an opportunity to play.

Fans of the team that signs him will complain. If he plays, and plays well, most will stop.

Kaepernick has started 69 games in five seasons. Yet last season, Blaine Gabbert beat him out for the 49ers’ quarterback job. There’s an old NFL axiom: If Blaine Gabbert beats you out, you are not good.

Only a bad or a desperate team will entrust him to lead its offense. Based on his body of recent work, he’s not a starter. If he’s willing to accept a reserve role and the money the role confers, he’d be a good backup.

At 29, he’s a year and a half older than Carolina quarterback Cam Newton. Is he willing to back up a starter? We’ll know soon enough.

Tom Sorensen is a retired Charlotte Observer columnist. Sign up for his newsletter, and follow him on Twitter: @tomsorensen

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