Sometimes in this industry, you must hold your nose and plunge into the TMZ sewer. Today, I have no choice but to report that Colin Kaepernick’s relationship with one Nessa Diab — a media personality who stars on an MTV show called “Girl Code” — indeed is official.
This confirms he’s at least completing forward passes somewhere, and that his idea of a hookup is more than a football bounced 10 feet in front of Torrey Smith.
The messenger, I’m happy to say, was from a good cause: Camp Taylor in the Central Valley, where Colin and Nessa spent Valentine’s Day with children fighting heart disease, part of his terrific ongoing work with that charity. Kaepernick certainly meant well, but when the camp posted photos of the couple and the kids on its Twitter account — “@Kaepernick7 & @Nessnitty spending Valentine’s Eve w/ our kiddos!” — a whole lot of idle dots finally were connected.
First dot: Kaepernick’s people have been leaking since November, to Bay Area and national outlets, that he’d be an ideal fit for the New York Jets’ offense as a dual-threat quarterback.
Second dot: Diab is based in New York, where she also hosts a daily radio program on a station called Hot 97.
Third dot: Kaepernick’s people have been leaking in recent days that he doesn’t trust the 49ers and the way they handled three injuries last season that required recent surgeries: on his right (throwing) thumb, left shoulder and left knee.
Fourth dot: If this isn’t a case of a disgruntled, fallen football star trying to media-maneuver his way out of the Bay to join his lady 3,000 miles away, what else would we possibly call it? The timing appears to confirm a hypothesis lurking since Chip Kelly, at his opening news conference as the 49ers’ new head coach, refused to commit to Kaepernick as his starting QB: There’s no sense in Kelly trying to resurrect Kaepernick in a perpetual-motion, up-tempo offense if the guy’s heart and head are in New York with his sweetie.
So consider this the latest evidence why Kelly, who has no time to waste in trying to rebuild his ravaged reputation in tandem with that of a dysfunctional franchise, can’t afford to spend even part of training camp on a Kaepernick experiment. Even if he wanted to be here for a fresh start with a fun offensive strategist, you’d let him go. But now that the genesis of all these media leaks is obvious, you certainly do not bring back Kaepernick, in fear of what might happen next if you do. As it is, the 49ers had no chance last summer when news broke of practice-field tensions between Kaepernick and Aldon Smith, who used to date Diab. When Dr. Phil couldn’t have resolved that love triangle, how could a completely overmatched Jim Tomsula begin to fix it? Releasing Smith, who quickly was signed by the Raiders even as he faced a one-year NFL suspension for his numerous DUI and personal issues, was only part of the solution.
Now, Kaepernick must be traded or released for Kelly to have any chance at the position that defines his professional being. Anyone wondering why No. 7 regressed into a skittish and woefully inaccurate passer last season, before his November benching, should wonder no more. Seems he might have had an aching heart from a long-distance relationship. Was this what Vernon Davis, shipped away after he and tackle Joe Staley had a locker-room squabble about Kaepernick, was referencing in San Jose on Super Bowl Opening Night before winning his first ring with the Denver Broncos?
“Maybe Kap is going through something, or maybe it just wasn’t his time. Everyone has situations, gaps and blocks, in their lives and they have to learn to overcome those things, obstacles,” Davis said. “That’s all they are. He just has to learn to overcome and find a place in his mind and his heart and just get back on track. I strongly believe that he will do that.”
But not here. He cannot be here in 2016, even if his recovery time from the surgeries renders him unable to pass a physical by April 1, whereupon he would be owed a guaranteed $11.9 million in base salary. At that point, CEO Jed York and general manager Trent Baalke either would cut a settlement with Kaepernick or an agreement with another team to pay part of his salary. Maybe that team is the Jets, though star wide receiver Brandon Marshall doesn’t want Kaepernick and reports are that team management isn’t enamored either. Maybe that team is the Cleveland Browns, where new coach Hue Jackson always has been a Kap fan. Maybe that team is the Houston Texans, who are ready to pull anyone out of the stands in a dire QB situation.
Whatever, wherever, get him out of here.
And get to work on a real quarterback, someone who wants to be in Santa Clara working with the mad scientist who ran a play every 22.1 seconds last season in Philadelphia. It was a mistake, anyway, to think Kaepernick would have been good for this offense when Kelly, while appreciating mobile QBs, is on record that he doesn’t want a passing-challenged athlete and desires a reliable, accurate performer who moves the chains quickly. That does not describe Kaepernick, and never has.
Between next week’s scouting combine and the draft, the 49ers have several weeks to figure out their QB conundrum. They’d better not dawdle, for nearly one-third of the league’s teams have instability or chaos at the most important position in team sports. My favorite option, as stated here often, is to bundle some of the abundant draft picks accrued by Baalke and shipping them to the Tennessee Titans, who own the No. 1 pick and don’t need a quarterback now that a Kelly project, young Marcus Mariota, is established as a future star.
Then, the 49ers select Cal’s Jared Goff, who is impressive in the pocket, makes plays on the run and already has the awareness and accuracy to run Kelly’s offense. Until Goff is completely ready, use Blaine Gabbert as the stopgap/sacrificial lamb. But what York cannot do, 11 years after his parents and their football people passed on a Cal quarterback named Aaron Rodgers, is repeat the Berkeley error.
The potential problem, of course, is that Jed and Trent will let another team beat them to the Goff chase. And by not having signed a free-agent QB, Kelly would be left with Gabbert and untested Dylan Thompson. If the 49ers didn’t commit to this huge draft-day deal, they’d have to maneuver for the other promising prospects — Paxton Lynch of Memphis, Carson Wentz of North Dakota State — who also would be chased by Houston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and other teams needing QBs.
To avoid the disaster of landing no quality prospect, the 49ers instead would pursue a free agent next month. The only one who excites me is Brock Osweiler — but wouldn’t he be a fool to leave behind Von Miller and the historic Denver defense for this madness when Peyton Manning’s starting job will be his?
Sam Bradford? He played well for Kelly in Philly in November and December, but at a high salary, he won’t excite the angry Stadium Builders License mob at Levi’s.
Kirk Cousins? He finally had a breakout season in Washington but, like Bradford, he likely won’t be worth a considerable, long-term financial investment.
Ryan Fitzpatrick? I’d rather have the first two.
Robert Griffin III? I’d rather have Colin Kaepernick.
I’d rather have Nessa Diab.
Jay Mariotti is sports director and lead sports columnist at the San Francisco Examiner. He can be reached at email@example.com. Read his website at jaymariotti.com.
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