Many theories have been posited as to why quarterback Colin Kaepernick is currently not on an NFL roster.
Most blame his year-long protest where he knelt during the national anthem before games, while others blame his sporadic play and steady decline as a player from his dynamic first two seasons as a starter.
Now sources with insider knowledge paint a picture that could help clarify the issue.
According to San Francisco 49ers employees, Kaepernick wasn’t properly preparing for games, possibly because his heart wasn’t in it.
From Pro Football Talk:
…Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com shares under the cloak of anonymity more criticism of Kaepernick’s football habits.
“As one Niners employee explained it, Kaepernick wouldn’t stay late at the facility during the season like many quarterbacks routinely do, saying he’d take work home,” Breer writes. “And there were examples where coaches saw what looked like shoddy prep surfacing in inexplicable mental errors in games. Another staffer, asked if he thinks Kaepernick wants to keep playing, answered, ‘I do think he wants to play — to stay relevant.’”
It’s not clear on the surface of the article whether the leaks come from current or former 49ers employees. Breer has clarified that the person who expressed the belief that Kaepernick wants to play “to stay relevant” was employed by the team a year ago, but Breer has not clarified whether the Niners employee who chided Kaepernick for taking work home is still employed, or whether the leak came before or after G.M. John Lynch told PFT Live that he apologized to Kaepernick for the leaks to King about Kaepernick.
The irony of Breer’s article is that his broader point — Kaepernick needs to speak on his own behalf — comes in an article containing more examples of people speaking about him under the cloak of anonymity. Multiple members of the media have been trafficking in these anonymous opinions, passing them along without scrutiny and thus necessarily presenting them as true.
Even before Kaepernick’s controversial protest, people questioned his work ethic. He was a tireless worker in terms of physical fitness (his former coach Jim Harbaugh was concerned he might be over-training in the weight room), but there was uncertainty around his mental preparedness and focus on fundamentals.
Kaepernick developed a reputation as a one-read quarterback; if his first option at Wide Receiver was covered, he would get panicky, and look to run.
His discomfort in the pocket was what untimely led to his backslide as a player. He missed too many second and third open reads and opted to run for little or no yards, or he would end up taking unnecessary sacks.
In 2014, despite being one of the fastest quarterbacks in the league, Kaepernick was one of the most sacked quarterbacks because he did a poor job of getting rid of the ball quickly.
After the 2014 season, Kaepernick tried to address his poor pocket fundamentals, elongated throwing mechanics, and slow decision-making by working with a quarterback trainer, but it had no impact.
His mechanics didn’t improve, and he actually had his worst season as a pro in 2015, ultimately getting benched.
These revelations about his questionable focus on film-study line up with his career arc.
Quarterback is the most important position in sports. If the quarterback isn’t locked in mentally, the team has no chance.
Until Kaepernick can convince teams he’s locked in on football, he will remain without an NFL job.