It’s getting ugly for the 49ers, who have faced several different stories hinting at the damaged locker room chemistry over the last few days. It began on Sunday with Jay Glazer’s portrayal of Colin Kaepernick as being “on an island,” and with our report of locker room tension stemming from the quarterback’s involvement with Aldon Smith’s former live-in girlfriend.
This morning, SoCaliSteph of Niners Nation released an eye-opening piece on the state of the 49ers’ locker room. It provided more details on the divide growing among the players, including some insight into a situation in which two players got into a verbal altercation over Kaepernick:
During the past few weeks, there have been rumblings of a locker room feud at a team meeting. Maiocco referenced it happening four weeks ago. A source told Niners Nation that a player stood up against Colin Kaepernick, and, as a result, another stood up in defense of Kaepernick. Glazer’s report of players being unhappy and unwilling to connect with Kaepernick appear true, but there are others including team captains and veterans standing up for the 49ers quarterback. Needless to say, Kaepernick is not necessarily on an “island by himself,” but I suspect from the vantage point of the players Glazer spoke with, they are unhappy with the performance and what appears to them as Kaepernick’s apathy. We also have sources who stated apologies were exchanged and the team was ready to move on. Well, until the 49ers lost again.
A source told me that the two players involved in the altercation were Vernon Davis and Joe Staley. The time frame here appears to be conflicting, but the source confirmed the reason for this altercation and said that it was actually the second time the two exchanged verbal blows.
The first instance occurred on the Tuesday following the Week 4 loss to the Packers. The conflict apparently stemmed from Staley’s doubts regarding the severity of Davis’ knee injury, which he sustained in the Week 3 loss to the Cardinals. According to the source, on the day after the Packers loss, Davis was told by a trainer that there was nothing wrong with his knee. Staley called Davis out on this the next day and they exchanged words over it. Davis didn’t play in either of the 49ers’ Week 4 and 5 losses to the Packers and Giants.
The next altercation occurred in the locker room following last Thursday’s loss to the Seahawks. While the details of this skirmish are unclear, a source told me that this was where the players were arguing over Kaepernick. The source couldn’t clarify what was said, but told me that it was Davis who spoke out against Kaepernick, and it was Staley who defended his quarterback.
Davis is coming off of his worst season as a pro and appears to be on track to match last year’s lows. Adam Schefter reported earlier in October that the 49ers were open to trading Davis, although it’s hard to imagine his value is high, even if you discount these latest controversies and focus solely on his performance.
On the other side of the Italian dinner table is Staley, who — despite all of the offensive line struggles — remains a bright spot in Kaepernick’s protection. If Davis and Staley have to be separated permanently, there’s little doubt which one the 49ers will chose to ship away.