Colin Kaepernick remaining without a job – now nearly four months after becoming a free agent – has quite easily been the most controversial story of the NFL offseason.
Quarterbacks with his kind of resume rarely spend much time on the open market. At the very least, a dynamic talent who’s been to a Super Bowl and hits the open market coming off a strong 2016 season would figure to have his phone line jammed with offers for a backup job.
The puzzling situation has understandably caused many to wonder whether teams are intentionally staying away because of Kaepernick’s decision to kneel in protest during pregame national anthems last season.
Chip Kelly – who coached Kaepernick during his final season in San Francisco – spoke at length about the controversial signal-caller in an appearance on the “Know Them from Adam” podcast this week.
Asked what he’d tell any coaches inquiring about Kaepernick, Kelly both shared praise for the quarterback’s ability and who he is as a person while downplaying the idea that he was ever a distraction to the 49ers.
“When you’re not there, it’s easy to speculate on what it’s like,” Kelly told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. “He is zero distraction. I like Kap a lot – he’s a really good person. He really wants to win and he’s highly competitive. He’s got a real good physical skill set to play the position and has played it at a really high level.
“I also don’t think he played at his top level last year because he was coming off of three surgeries. I think the Kap this year will be better than the Kap last year. He’s proven, like he did in 2013 – he was a play away from winning a Super Bowl. I think that experience, his physical skill set, his mindset – I would tell anybody: Zero distractions and a really talented player that could help you win.”
The only known interest Kaepernick has received since opting out of his contract with the 49ers came from the division-rival Seahawks. After hosting him for a workout, Seattle instead elected to add journeyman Austin Davis as a backup for Russell Wilson.
Kaepernick began the 2016 campaign as a backup to Blaine Gabbert after, as Kelly explained, undergoing a series of offseason surgeries. It wasn’t long before he again earned the lead job, though, and the 29-year-old went on to finish with 2,241 yards, 16 touchdowns, and just four interceptions across his 11 starts.
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