If Jim Harbaugh returns to NFL, will he sign Colin Kaepernick?

San Francisco 49ers v Oakland Raiders
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When we reported earlier this month that former 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh was eyeing a potential return to the NFL and that multiple teams were doing their homework on him, some shouted that he has a three-year extension to stay in Michigan.

That three-year extension still hasn’t been signed.

Amid reports that Michigan may be willing to keep Harbaugh but to reduce his salary and increase his incentives (which, if true, is a passive-aggressive invitation to leave), Harbaugh may be biding his time, waiting to see whether a team like the Jets makes a move. Much remains undecided in this regard, as it usually does. But if, and it’s still a fairly big if, Harbaugh returns to the NFL, here’s the next question: Will he sign Colin Kaepernick?

Early in the shunning of Kaepernick, Harbaugh appeared on PFT Live. I asked what he’d say to any NFL coaches or executives doing due diligence regarding the quarterback.

“I’ll tell you the same thing I tell them,” Harbaugh said in March 2017, “I think he’s an outstanding player and I think he’s a great competitor who has proven it in games and has the ability to be not only an NFL starter but a great NFL player. . . . He’ll have a great career and be a great quarterback, win championships.”

I can already hear it. He said that nearly four years ago! He doesn’t believe it now! But here’s what Harbaugh said about Kaepernick in July 2020, back when a vague sense emerged that he’d get an opportunity to return to the NFL before the clock inevitably, and conveniently, ran out on the topic.

“My personal opinion and really advice to NFL teams is, there’s only one way to answer these questions, one way to find out, and that’s Colin signs somewhere,” Harbaugh said on ESPN. “My advice is he’d be worth your time and that NFL team will be very happy. . . . Colin Kaepernick is a friend, he’s a brother, he’s a great teammate. I love Colin. I think he’s an unbelievably talented football player.”

Harbaugh may not have the power to sign Kaepernick at his next destination, if he returns to the NFL. But he’ll have the ability to advocate aggressively for the team to consider giving Kaepernick that which he has been denied for nearly four years — a full and fair chance.

70 responses to “If Jim Harbaugh returns to NFL, will he sign Colin Kaepernick?

  1. If I was building an NFL team from the ground up no one better as your QB than Kap, he’s a true leader with great skills and team chemistry would be phenomenal.

    Would love to see him and Harbaugh on the Jets!

  2. I’ll go on a limb and say no qb has ever been out of the game in their prime for 4 years and came back to great success. Plus everything I read says it’s more financially lucrative to not play. So that should answer that.

  3. How do you perform as poorly as he has in college despite having a top ten recruiting class every year and just jump right back into coaching in the NFL?

  4. Kaepernick’s time has come and gone. No NFL owner or GM is going to risk the huge backlash and distractions he would cause. Additionally, his play on the field was nowhere near good enough to justify putting up with the issues be would bring.

  5. If I was building an NFL team from the ground up no one better as your QB than Kap, he’s a true leader with great skills and team chemistry would be phenomenal.
    Said no one ever lol 😂

  6. Big talk for someone who can’t actually hire him. I bet his opinion would change with the Jets, and a #1 overall.

  7. If Harbaugh went to the Jets he would have Trevor Lawrence, why in the world would he want Kap.

  8. If jim does get a job and doesnt hire kaep will this talk finally end? We should start a campiagn to get dan orlovski back in the league. Hes a rare talent. Almost had 2 totally defeated season… 1 with the lions and he was at the helm in the suck for luck campaign.

  9. Lol it’s more likely Holmgren returns and signs Favre, Dungy comes back and signs Manning or Elway hires Shanahan as head coach and then signs himself as starting qb.

  10. Kaepernick has been out of the league for too long. Besides, Kaep is not about to return for the minimum salary and any team would be foolish to pay more. Harbaugh, looking to reestablish himself, would be crazy to stake his credibility on Kaep.

  11. MortimerInMiami says:
    December 19, 2020 at 10:02 am
    If I was building an NFL team from the ground up no one better as your QB than Kap, he’s a true leader with great skills and team chemistry would be phenomenal.

    Would love to see him and Harbaugh on the Jets!
    A position enthusiastically endorsed by Bills, Dolphins, And Patriots fans.

  12. Kaepernick coming back and playing in the NFL has about the same chance as Tebow has of coming back and playing …..which is ZERO.

  13. Harbaugh is not a good coach or talent evaluator. He won a little at Stanford because of Andrew Luck. The 49era team he coached were good because of Vic Fangio’ s Defense. Harbaugh’s big decision was to bench Alex Smith for Kaepernick, and it didn’t work. Smith is still in the league because he’s undoubtedly a better player. Harbaugh is overrated because of his past as a player and “who’s got it better than us? Nobody” schtick. Harbaugh was objectively a failure.

  14. Two things: #1) Harbaugh is Gruden 2.0, he is a side show, a carnival act, he is the show, not the game, is that what any NFL team committed to winning is looking for?
    #2) Kap, can we close the book on him, he is the official mascot of the social justice warriors, multicultural parade, and all things woke. He is not an NFL QB and has not been on in a long time. Being a starting QB in the NFL is the most challenging position in sport. Kap does not have the skills or desire to do it, can we all just move along. To sign him is to sign both him and the team up for failure.

  15. I like Kap, but no one has given a clear answer as to what it would take to sign him. Is he willing to take less like Cam, Jameis and Marcus did this past year – a prove-it contract? If so, he’s definitely worth a shot. Or has he been looking for a 15 million plus contract?

  16. Harbaugh took over a lousy 49ers team, and almost immediately there was a lockout or a strike or whatever. But there was not going to be a pre-season for Harbaugh’s first year, so he met with Alex Smith and gave him the playbook and Smith held some unofficial practices. Kaepernick was just drafted, and had no experience or pre-season, so when the season started, they were forced to go with Smith at QB. Smith, surprisingly led them into the championship game, which they lost. The following year, Kaepernick was able to attend his first off-season program, so he was ready to go. Smith began the season at QB, but as soon as he went down with an injury Kaepernick took over and played very well. When Smith recovered, they chose to stay with Kap, and he led them to the super bowl his very first season, and came a whisker away from winning. The following season, the job was all Kap’s and he again led them to the NFC championship game, and again came just a tiny whisker away from advancing to his second super bowl in each of his first two seasons. He was basically what we’ve seen from Patrick Mahomes. Going back a couple years, the 49ers had been trying to get a new stadium deal approved by the City of Santa Clara. The 49ers were a horrible team, and they were having a hard time getting the city to throw in tax payer money. Harbaugh was brought in hoping he could change that. Suddenly the 49ers were a top team, and the stadium deal was approved. As soon as that happened, Jed York pulled the power from Jim Harbaugh and gave it back to Trent Baalke. Harbaugh had no juice and he lost power and control over the team. Not surprisingly, the team went into a slide. Harbaugh was out and Jim Tomsula was in. Tomsula was out and Chip Kelly was in. This was how Kaepernick’s career went with the 49ers. Then the police shootings got some national attention, but had run its course and the media was on to the next story. Kaepernick said wait a minute here. This shouldn’t be swept under the rug, so he decided to use his power to keep some attention on the subject. The 49ers, like many owners, didn’t like this, so they got rid of Kaepernick, and he was blackballed from the league. It’s like if Patrick Mahomes suddenly joined a controversial protest and got blackballed by the league. Thousands of people on the other side of the argument would swear that Mahomes was actually a horrible QB. That’s what they’re saying about Kap. I don’t know what Jim Harbaugh might do, and the last I heard, Jim didn’t like to comment on hypotheticals. Could Kap recapture the magic? Probably. Would the league support that? Probably not. I’m not saying if I’d like to see Kap playing football again, I’m just giving some unbiased background information to those who weren’t following the story from beginning to end.

  17. Kaepernick wasn’t shunned, his diminishing skill set coupled with his unrealistic salary demands resulted in him not being signed.

  18. Well if Harbaugh wants to keep up with the Jets tradition, he would take the Jets job. Then sign Kap as his starter.

    Of course Jets tradition is Horrible coaching and horrible QB play.

  19. By next season he will have been out of the league for five years. He has turned down other opportunities to play in other leagues and show teams what he has. He has turned down everyone. Opportunities to play in the NFL are not just given to you. Given the scrutiny that any team will come under from their fan base that signs him, you’d like to know you are signing a serviceable player and one that will be dedicated to his team and teammates. My opinion, roast me if you like.

  20. If Washington, Carolina, New York, Dallas, Chicago, New England and Jacksonville didn’t sign him, why would the Jets when they are about to get Trevor Lawrence!? Even if they don’t get him (for some reason) why get Kaepernick?? I think Darnold is a good coach away from being a good quarterback, Adam Gase is trash as a coach

  21. charliecharger You conveniently left out 2014, where even still with Jim Harbaugh, the great Kaep missed the playoffs and had one of the most inept offenses in the league. Please don’t compare Kaep to Mahomes. It discredits your entire argument.

  22. It seems like lots of people are willing to talk about how great Kapernick is, but nobody seems willing to try and back it up. Pete Carrol spoke rather glowingly about him, but despite that he would seem to be a solid backup choice to Wilson, never went further. There is a reason body has picked him up. He wants a starting position and more money than he is worth.

  23. I doubt it. Harbaugh left before the 49ers crashed, and the reason they crashed was because they shipped out Alex. Any team Harbaugh would go to would likely be drafting a QB, or if its LA they have someone like Herbert. Kaepernick just does not offer anything for an NFL QB.

  24. Colin definitely got black balled, we can all agree about that (see Nathan Peterman). But enough is enough when it comes to him coming back into the league for crying out loud. Its over.

  25. It’s like if Patrick Mahomes suddenly joined a controversial protest and got blackballed by the league.


    It’s like if Patrick Mahomes never won an MVP, put a terrible stats for a couple of seasons, was replaced by Blaine Gabbert, suddenly joined a controversial protest and got blackballed by the league.

    Fixed it for you.

  26. Any contract would need to be signed off by the owner. Thus, it won’t happen. Add to that he makes more money as an activist, he won’t sign.

  27. Nah, Jim actually wants to win. He doesn’t need another circus like he had with Michigan.

  28. But if, and it’s still a fairly big if, Harbaugh returns to the NFL, here’s the next question: Will he sign Colin Kaepernick?


    How is that the next question?

  29. This is easy.
    No. He won’t even consider it.
    When will people accept that this guy is not coming back?

  30. Every year Kaep sits out people’s memory of his career gets worse and worse… He was mediocre/bad during his last season in the league, do people think he’s improved during his time away?

  31. If Kaepernick were to come back and be completely horrible, he would be looked at as a guy who ran his mouth about how great he is and proved himself a liar. Kaepernick knows he isn’t good enough to start in the NFL. If he didn’t know that, he would have taken a shot at a comeback. There are teams that would have given him a tryout if his agent had asked. Instead, Kaepernick decided to make demands that he get paid x amount of dollars and be named the starter before he signed. If he really wanted to play, he would have went somewhere and been given a chance. Instead he decided to play the victim and that is what he wants to do. So…. No, Harbaugh won’t bring him in because he doesn’t want to be brought in.

  32. Keep needs the right organization, and that’s Pittsburgh. Ben is finished, kap is a great fill in until they can draft the future. Tomlin gets to prove how good a coach he is without a HOF QB. Plus kaps politics align with the organization as a whole.

  33. Florio, if Kap can’t even get back in the league during a season with no fans, he’s never getting back. Period.

  34. A better question might be: if Harbaugh offered Kaep a training camp contract to come and see what he has left, would he accept it?

  35. I’d love this guy in Cincinnati. I know buckeye homers hate on him but dude won 70 % of his games at the highest level, while having a krappy QB. Imagine if he had a real QB like Joey B.

  36. I hope so, Kaep will never be close to what he used to be and that will spell doom for both the team and Harbaugh. It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy or a more overrated coach.

  37. Those of you who remember him as a great QB are remembering select games, not full seasons and certainly not his career. He no more ‘lead” the team to the SB than Big Ben did for his first one.
    Here are Kap’s career stats, would you want to sign any other QB with them:
    # Games 69
    Pass Yds/game 177.8
    Rush Yds/ Game 33.3
    Tot TD/game 1.2
    Tot TD/ 16 games 19.7
    Comp % 59.8
    Rating 88.9
    QBR 60.4
    W/L 38-31
    W/L % 55%
    Int+ Fum lost/game 0.65
    TD to turnover 85-45
    TD to turnover ratio 1.9

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