This month Colin Kaepernick stopped standing for the national anthem during games in which he is a participant, either as an active player or a teammate in street clothes. He has the right to do so. He also has the right to wear socks depicting pigs wearing police hats when he practices. He has either done this *on* Aug. 10 or *since* Aug. 10 (it’s difficult to get confirmation on this).
That happens to be the date when the 49ers practiced in front of thousands of fans at Kezar Stadium, which begs the question: Was Kaepernick hoping to get noticed weeks earlier than last Friday?
Via CBS Sports:
It appears that over the past few weeks, Kaepernick has been wearing socks that show a pig in a cop’s hat.
The quarterback has been wearing them since at least Aug. 10.
Kaepernick hasn’t been asked about his socks yet, but it wouldn’t be shocking to find out that it’s part of his statement that he’s trying to make against police brutality.
It’s definitely no accident that Kaepernick’s wearing these in practice, and there’s also no question that the socks were designed to make fun of cops.
It’s becoming increasingly difficult to believe Kaepernick sincerely wants to regain his starting job with the San Francisco 49ers, or continue playing for the 49ers in any role.
Despite the anger he caused … sitting down for the anthem at the workplace, with thousands of fans and television cameras present, is a different level of protest than wearing these socks at the workplace. Socks are 100% harmless in the grand scheme of things, but he’s going to find far less support on this statement than he did when he sat on the bench for the Star Spangled Banner. Not that the amount of support he gets says anything about his statement, but this is a post about his future with the 49ers, not the power or legitimacy of his message.
Politics? Nobody wants me to branch off into this area. I get it. But if we’re looking at the 49ers, and a quarterback who was once on billboards and on his way to revolutionizing the position, it seems fairly obvious now that he’s going to be gone very soon, perhaps as soon as when they cut the roster down to 53 in a matter of days.
Jay Glazer, who is rarely wrong when he reports big NFL news, had this to say a few days ago:
“Regardless of politics or not, he has a very, very big uphill battle to make this team … I’d be shocked if he’s on the 49ers by the time this season ends. It has nothing to do with political views whatsoever. He lost a ton of weight this offseason, had three surgeries, couldn’t work out, lost that double threat, that size-speed ratio. No political views, he just hasn’t been effective. He’s regressing as a player. I’d be shocked if he’s on this roster by the end of this year. He may not be on it in the next two weeks.”
If the 49ers don’t think he’s necessary from a football perspective, his acrimonious relationship with the organization can’t help matters. Let’s take a look at the last year and a half of Kaepernick.
- No. 1 cheerleader, Jim Harbaugh, was fired
- Remade his throwing mechanics and the results were terrible
- Lost all confidence (and the remaining confidence the organization had in him) when he threw two pick-sixes against Arizona
- Lost his starting job to Blaine Gabbert in the middle of the 2015 season
- iPadGate (leaks that Gabbert was studying film far more than Kaepernick when the latter was healthy)
- Had surgery on his non-throwing shoulder (49ers play-by-play announcer Ted Robinson questioned his motives at the time)
- Had two surgeries after the season, effectively keeping the 49ers from releasing him before April 1
- Requested a trade
- Wouldn’t take a paycut to facilitate a trade to Denver
- Lost a significant amount of weight
- Got really political, like, as political as any active NFL player in history
- Effectively called police officers a bunch of poorly-trained pigs
- On a positive note for media, he went from super cranky to open and talkative in the last week (the 49ers probably aren’t stoked about this, either)
The 49ers are probably frightened to death heading into Thursday night’s game, and not because of the boos (San Diego fans stopped going to Chargers games years ago, and this is Week 4 of the preseason). If Kaepernick suffers a Teddy Bridgewater-esque injury, they’ll be forced to pay him $14.5 million next season.
It’s obvious why Kaepernick would want to leave the 49ers, but does he want to leave the NFL? He might be as toxic as Johnny Manziel, as crazy at that sounds in a league where Greg Hardy got a job with the most valuable franchise in the league last season. NFL Execs are anonymously telling Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman that he’s a “traitor.”
Kaepernick sounds resolute in his stance against police brutality, and let’s be realistic.
- Being a starting quarterback is a full-time job.
- Being an activist is a full-time job, too.
The 49ers released an excellent statement when the world found out Kaepernick was sitting during Francis Scott Key’s song, which makes the cynical side of me wonder if it was prepared weeks ago (he started sitting out the song when the preseason began). They’ve navigated several PR catastrophes over the last few years, so they have practice. So far, they’ve done very well here. But can they really carry a quarterback on the roster who’s openly trying to antagonize the police (and, by default, a large percentage of their fan base)? Especially a quarterback who represents an injury grenade, isn’t incredibly popular in the locker room, and hasn’t played well in a long time?
If they 49ers keep him, they have one of two choices. They can make him the active backup, and every media outlet that isn’t beholden to the NFL will focus on his anthem behavior during the regular season (which is a tad more important than these sham preseason “contests”). Or, they can make him inactive each week, and in that case what’s the point?
The Thad Lewis injury didn’t seem like a big deal at the time, but it created a huge problem in Santa Clara. Chip Kelly said Kaepernick was the second-best quarterback on the team, but that’s only because the other choices are a rookie sixth-rounder and a guy who was working on the “honey do” list written by his wife Sam Ponder when the 49ers gave him a call.
But this team isn’t going anywhere this year, and Kaepernick gave them an out with these socks — as ridiculous as it sounds. With his decision to sit down, he drew comparisons to Muhammad Ali, Jackie Robinson, John Carlos and Tommie Smith. Socks are just socks to most rational humans, but the NFL fines players for wearing socks during games that don’t go all the way to their knees (just ask Frank Gore). There’s no statement the 49ers can make that can sufficiently explain these socks, and the act of wearing them carries the look of insubordination. With Kaepernick wanting to jump ship, and his trade value at negative-a-million, why would the 49ers keep him past Thursday?