As the 49ers fade from postseason contention for the first time since Jim Harbaugh became head coach, quarterback Colin Kaepernick has become increasingly sullen in his dealings with the media. While still responsive to questions from reporters, his body language suggests no interest in talking about why he and the team aren’t thriving.
Here’s the latest example of Kaepernick choosing not to elaborate on what’s gone wrong with a team that had made three straight trips to the NFC title game, and that nearly won a Super Bowl in the same season Kaepernick became the starter.
Q: “You in particular don’t seem to be playing at your usual level the last several games. Do you understand why aside from not executing?
A: “I have to play better.”
Q: “I understand that. Do you understand why you’re not playing better?”
A: “I haven’t been playing well.”
He hasn’t been playing well on a consistent basis for a while. For the year, he has accounted for 16 touchdowns and 14 turnovers. Over the last two games, Kaepernick has one touchdown pass and four interceptions. Against the Raiders, his first throw of the game was picked off.
While Kaepernick has no answers for the media about why he’s struggling, he’ll need to have some answers for the team, especially if/when there’s a new head coach. Thanks to a team-friendly contract that gives the 49ers until April 1 of 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 to decide whether to move on, a new head coach may not want Kaepernick right out of the gates. Or a new head coach may decide after a year that he doesn’t want Kaepernick. Or after two year.
Regardless, the team has ample flexibility in each league year to move on from Kaepernick because his injury-only guarantees don’t become full guarantees until more than two weeks after the annual period arrives for signing free agents and making trades.
It was still smart for Kaepernick to do the deal. If he played like he’s currently playing in what would have been a contract year, Kaepernick would have had a hard time getting a $12 million signing bonus from the 49ers, or from anyone else.