49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick gets unfairly criticized, according to former NFL quarterback Chris Simms. In a video interview for Bleacher Report, Simms loaded that assumption into a question regarding why Kaepernick believes he gets a raw deal.
“Stereotypes, prejudice,” Kaepernick said. “Whatever you want to call it. I think between the tattoos, the way I dress, the way I talk. People don’t think it should go together with a franchise quarterback or something that’s leading the team or representing the organization.”
But who has criticized Kaepernick other than the one columnist who made a big deal about Kaepernick’s tattoos back in 2012? Other than his misadventures with a Miami Dolphins hat, no one has criticized Kaepernick for his clothing. And no one has ever criticized Kaepernick based on the way he talks.
For the most part, Kaepernick has escaped widespread criticism for his performance, even though he averaged a mere 185 yards passing last year from Week Two through Week 17. (For the entire 19 regular-season and postseason games, he averaged fewer than 200 passing yards per game.) Last year at this time, Ron Jaworski generated three days of SportsCenter churn by declaring that Kaepernick could be one of the best quarterbacks not only in the league, but in the history of the league.
In recent months, Kaepernick has been criticized for agreeing to a contract that doesn’t reflect his value to the franchise, especially if as Simms declares at the outset of the interview Kaepernick is one of the five best quarterbacks in the league. (If every guy who has been called a top-five quarterback actually was one, there would be at least 15 top-five quarterbacks.) But Kaepernick has been fairly criticized for doing a deal that was too team friendly.
He insisted on too little guaranteed money. He committed for seven years, through 2020. He agreed to annual April 1 triggers for converting money guaranteed for injury-only to fully guaranteed payments, a ridiculously late offseason deadline that gives the team the ability to explore all options via trade and free agency before re-committing to Kaepernick. He agreed to buy, at an estimated $2 million in pre-tax earnings, a disability policy that would give the 49ers $20 million if he suffers any injury, on the field or off, that ends his career — even though the 49ers aren’t obligated to pay him for any non-football injuries.
“I think it’s a great deal for both sides,” Kaepernick told Simms. “The NFL is a performance-based business. So you should have to perform to earn some of your money. At the same time, I realize that my success isn’t because of just what I do out there. I have great teammates around me that make plays, and I want to continue to have good teammates around me, so the contract allows the organization to keep those players.”
Kaepernick could have negotiated a contract that pays him more like one of the best five quarterbacks in the league, and that also allows the team to put a competitive roster around him. Other teams do it with franchise quarterbacks. The contract — not the tattoos or the clothes or anything else — makes it hard to call Kaepernick a franchise quarterback. He’ll now have to overcome the perception created by his contract by averaging a lot more than 185 yards per game passing or by delivering an on-target throw when the season depends on it.