Colin Kaepernick’s weekly press conference ended with a smile, and this exchange.
Head coach Jim Tomsula just said a few minutes ago that you’re not being asked to do anything that you’ve been asked to do previously, in previous years exactly. What do you think he meant by that and what’s your take on what you’re being asked to do that’s different than anything?
“I would say the biggest thing is I’m being asked to be myself this year and I don’t think anyone knows how to be myself better than me. So, it’s a comfort zone for me. It’s a situation where I’m not being asked to do things outside of my character.”
Do you feel like you were asked to do things outside your character?
“Outside of how I would normally handle situations, yeah.”
Meaning, to be more specific, like just being in the pocket more? Not getting outside? Is that kind of what you’re getting at?
“No. I’m getting at that, I was asked to do things outside of my character.”
Kaepernick wouldn’t explain himself, so everyone was left to wonder what he meant. Was he pulling a reverse-LaMichael James and talking about football? It’s possible that Kaepernick felt like the coaches wanted to force him into becoming a Ben Roethlisberger-esque pocket passer last year. Maybe he was talking about Jim Harbaugh’s vice-like grip on the play-calling, with Harbaugh announcing every play during practices and the oft-described problems with getting plays called and executed on time during games.
Or, does Kaepernick’s use of the word “character” mean he was asked to do things away from the field that he wouldn’t have done normally? This could mean anything, from study/preparation, interactions with teammates, or his absurdly terse demeanor with the media, which culminated with a press conference in the week before the Raiders loss where Kaepernick uttered just 87 words in response to 32 questions. The short answer era lasted until … hmmm … about a week later, right after the 49ers lost to Oakland and every single person following the 49ers knew Harbaugh was a goner.
There’s no way to know what Kaepernick meant (Did Harbaugh ask him to secretly record conversations with Tomsula?), and some will undoubtedly say that he doesn’t owe anyone an explanation. But Kaepernick was vague and coy when asked to describe the differences between this year, under Tomsula, and last year, under Harbaugh, and that causes people to speculate. It also does exactly what the 49ers should be trying to avoid.
Isn’t this team trying to move on from Harbaugh? With Kaepernick referencing mistakes Harbaugh made, he’s keeping the khakis-wearing, culture-destroyer in the conversation two weeks into a season that shouldn’t have anything to do with the Michigan Wolverines head coach. In the process, Kaepernick is explaining away one of his own faults, while hiding what exactly that shortcoming was and blaming the previous regime in the process.