He’s dominated the national discussion since sitting out the national anthem before the San Francisco 49ers’ last preseason game. But Colin Kaepernick hasn’t been a topic of conversation among the team’s coaching staff as they trim the roster.
Head coach Chip Kelly said on Wednesday that the team hasn’t discussed making any cuts at the quarterback position yet.
“We knew we were not going to release any quarterbacks at the cut to 75, so haven’t had a discussion about the quarterback position at all,” Kelly told reporters.
Kelly confirmed that Kaepernick remains in the top two on the depth chart at his position, but he also said it would ultimately be general manager Trent Baalke’s decision to keep the quarterback, who has struggled on the field so far this preseason.
Making matters more complicated, the 49ers will be on the hook for $11.9 million of Kaepernick’s nearly $16 million contract if they cut him. And it would look horrible for the team — and Kelly specifically, after he stood by Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper in 2013 following the release of a video featuring him slurring racial epithets — if they were to release Kaepernick right now.
The good news for Kap: He’ll get a shot to prove himself on the field Thursday against the San Diego Chargers in the Niners’ final preseason game. The coaching staff has seen enough Blaine Gabbert, but not Kaepernick, who has missed a good deal of training camp recovering from surgeries and getting his shoulder back in throwing shape.
“I know everybody wants to know where this is going,” Kelly conceded. “… Our sole discussion was the cut to 75 and that’s kind of where we are. We need to go play this game. We’ve got two more days of training and then we’re going from there.”
Wouldn’t it be great if Kaepernick dazzled in the final tuneup, making the decision for the Niners brass that much harder? He’s already stood up for what he believes in. Now’s the time to make himself indispensable for the 53-man roster.
That is, if that’s what he wants.