Sunday, April 16, 2017

Damaging a career: Colin Kaepernick

Colin Kaepernick was immediately put into the stardom when he took over for the San Francisco 49ers in the middle of the 2012 season. Replacing Alex Smith who got a concussion, he found his way to making it to the Super Bowl, but to lose to the Baltimore Ravens. His 2013 season was his first full starting season and he didn't disappoint. He could run. He could throw. The team, even though they lost in the NFC Championship game, looked like they had a future quarterback for years to come. Then, 2014 came, and while he had a good year, it was not a strong one, missing the playoffs and coach Jim Harbaugh gone after that season.

For 2015, Kaepernick struggled and was benched. His numbers were far from good, and one would think this past season he would have been the starter under Chip Kelly's offensive scheme. However, the former coach decided to go with Blaine Gabbert, who didn't exactly light things up. Kaepernick was put in towards the middle of the year and posted some good numbers. They didn't translate to wins, though. San Francisco only won one game under him and he was let go after this past season. However, the point of this blog comes from what he did during pre-season.

You see games on television or in person and you see the National Anthem. The ones at the games, playing or spectating, look up to the flag. Kaepernick decided to kneel. It drew a lot of backlash and criticism. As far the NFL goes, some players on teams like the Miami Dolphins did it as well. Others, like the entire New York Giants team, stood for the Anthem. Kaepernick's reasoning was that because of the oppression of African Americans. The last few years haven't exactly been positive things, especially with shootings in the United States and a bunch of other things. He still hasn't been picked up and it begs the question on why he hasn't.

I think it comes down to two things. The first is obviously the protest he did. I'm not an expert on public relations despite going for mass communications, but this is truly a nightmare that will never be fixed. No matter how much stuff he does to help his image or others, he's still going to be really hated. I wouldn't be surprised if teams are concerned about what he could possibly do off the field and in interviews. The National Anthem is something you don't take lightly. Personally, I would stand up for it like everyone else. And especially considering the last few years, there are better ways to show protest than kneeling.

The other, which is also a huge factor, is if he can play. Could he have the energy to play well and start all 16 games in a season? This week, 49er coach Kyle Shanahan talked about why Kaepernick was not a fit for the offense he wants. Kaepernick's style of play is similar to other quarterbacks like Cam Newton, Russell Wilson, and Robert Griffin III. However, Wilson is really the only one who has developed into a passer, putting up huge numbers the last two years. Newton kind of has, but his numbers were far from the strongest last year compared to 2015. Shanahan also said about not doing everything, which you see a little bit. Guys like Drew Brees, Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers, and Joe Flacco have all done well as pocket passers that ultimately got them Super Bowls. Sometimes, they do have to run, but getting the ball to their receivers is a huge key to their success and a huge shot for the Hall of Fame (Flacco, I'm not sure yet).

I'm inclined to agree somewhat on the idea of repetitiveness. A team has to cater to Kaepernick's approach to the game. Whether he adjusts to another system is another story. If he wants to be relevant again, he's going to have to do a lot more to not only repair his image if he wants to, but also work on passing mechanics. He needs to show the NFL that he can still play, and he needs to put a very strong effort to be the starter for a team that is desperate for a quarterback. Or at the very least, have a backup in case things go sour with the other starter, which seemed to be the case this past season. He is still young enough to last a long time in the league and has big talent, but he has to put up the effort. Otherwise, he's a case of what if's along with other mobile quarterbacks like Michael Vick and Randall Cunningham.

Only Colin Kaepernick can dictate where he wants his career to go. If he changes for the better, then he can try to win back the fans. If he can't, then good riddance. He had everything and it crumbled around him. Whatever he does will affect his future, whatever he has left of a future.

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