One of the false narratives that still lingers regarding Colin Kaepernick is that he’s not currently in the league because he stunk in 2016, as confirmed by the fact that he was benched for Blaine Gabbert. (Even if all of that is true, that shouldn’t result in Kaepernick going from being the starter to being ignored by all teams for even a backup job.)
First, he wasn’t benched for Blaine Gabbert. Kaepernick wasn’t healthy at the start of the season, following three offseason surgeries. Indeed, the fact that he sat for the first two preseason games wasn’t noticed because he wasn’t healthy enough to be in uniform.
Once Kaepernick was healthy, the 49ers benched Gabbert. And Kaepernick threw 16 touchdown passes against four interceptions. Kaepernick also impacted the offense in a positive way.
“All the protest and the controversy aside, Kap was a ballplayer,” former 49ers receiver Jeremy Kerley told Matt Barrows of TheAthletic.com. “He’s a good ballplayer, you know what I mean? There’s a reason why San Fran paid him what they paid him. There’s a reason why they went to the Super Bowl.”
Kerley, who led the team in receiving that season, said that Kaepernick quickly made a difference.
“We were kind of missing [something] throughout the season,” Kerley said, “but when he came on, it’s like he kind of electrified the offense and got us going and stuff. It was unfortunate we couldn’t get more than one win out of it. But like I said, personally, my funnest time playing football was 2016.”
So why didn’t the 49ers win more than two games in 2016?
“Kap was playing with scout-team players,” linebacker Michael Wilhoite told Barrows. “He wasn’t playing with starters. All the starters had either been hurt by the end of the year or weren’t trying to play by the end of the year because of the record. And so he was out there playing with dudes who would normally be on the scout team or practice squad. . . . I think he was the best player on the team. I think by the end of the year, we were in games and won a game because of him.”
The false narratives are so firmly baked in for so many people that this kind of information won’t matter, even though it should. Still, to the extent that supposedly interested teams are talking to “friends and associates” of Kaepernick instead of Kaepernick and his agents, hopefully they’ll be talking to “friends and associates” like Kerley and Wilhoite.