ESPN’s John Clayton was on Chad, Joe and Lo this morning, and “The Professor” explained why the 49ers might hold onto Colin Kaepernick, even if Kaepernick would rather not stay.
“They’ve got to get him out of the division if they’re going to get rid of him,” said Clayton. “But the problem is nobody’s going to take the $11.9 million salary. And you can see teams are operating as if they’re not going to take Kaepernick.”
According to Clayton, the only team with sincere interest in Kaepernick is currently moving to Los Angeles.
If he’s cut, he’s going down to the Rams,” Clayton said. “That could be a pretty good, impactful type move. Because here you have Todd Gurley, probably the best young running back in football and you put Kaepernick out there, teams on defense have to play linebackers at the edge and that could add, I don’t know, 10 to 15 percent on the yardage totals for Todd Gurley because it’s going to open up the middle.”
That’s a worst-case scenario for the 49ers, who are already looking up at the Cardinals and Seahawks.
“My guess would be they just have to basically tell Kap, it’s like, ‘Hey, listen, we’re not going to trade you. You’re the quarterback. We gave you a contract. If you don’t like it, retire. But if not, just come in and play,'” said Clayton, who was asked if he thought any other team would call the 49ers to discuss a possible Kaepernick trade.
“No. I don’t. Because, take a look at the teams. Now we know Philadelphia’s out. They got Sam Bradford back and they’re probably going to get Chase Daniels as the backup quarterback. Buffalo can’t afford an $11.9 million salary because they’re already pretty tight up against the cap with all the moves they have to make. Cleveland’s not interested. Houston’s not interested. Yeah, the Rams are going to be interested, but they’re not going to trade within the division. So where would there be a trade? Denver’s not going to make a move on Colin Kaepernick. So when you put that all together, I don’t see any calls coming in.”
Clayton didn’t think the New York Jets, who he said were “adamant” about their lack of interest in Kaepernick, would reconsider because they want to keep Ryan Fitzpatrick as the starter and use a quarterback younger than Kaepernick as Fitzpatrick’s backup.
So that settles it. Kaepernick either has to retire or come back to the 49ers, and reenter a locker room he lost last year (and probably didn’t impress with his recent trade request). However, Kaepernick could end up heading elsewhere if the 49ers want to replace him with Robert Griffin, who Clayton says would sign with the 49ers in an instant.
“Clearly if Kaepernick’s gone, I could see RG3 in a 49ers uniform because I think that would be his first choice, even if they do draft a quarterback at No. 7,” Clayton said.
“RG3 could end up as a fallback to the Rams. He could compete for a backup job, maybe in Kansas City. Maybe compete for a starting job in Buffalo. But I think the No. 1 choice for him would be to go to San Francisco if Kaepernick’s gone.”
If the 49ers think Griffin is better than Kaepernick, the decision would appear relatively easy. Let Kaepernick go to the Rams and watch him struggle like he did in 2015. However, Griffin hasn’t played since 2014. He found success in a zone-read offense as a rookie, but is that enough to convince the 49ers to let the Rams have Kaepernick and hope Griffin refines the rest of his game (and stays healthy)?
The entire interview can be found at 95.7 The Game.