The 49ers have until April Fool’s Day to make a decision on quarterback Colin Kaepernick, and they may want to conduct more than a physical examination before then. Because something other than faulty mechanics and subpar support might have contributed to his erratic behavior on and off the field this season.
Or so hinted the Denver Broncos’ Vernon Davis, Kaepernick’s one-time teammate, who witnessed his career free-fall up close this season.
“I mean, maybe Kap could be going through something,” said Davis, whose own commitment had been questioned before his trade in November. “Maybe it just wasn’t his time. But everyone has situations, gaps and blocks in their life where they just have to learn to overcome those things. Obstacles, that’s all they are. He just has to learn to overcome them and find a place in his mind and his heart and get back on track, and I strongly believe he will do that.”
Only weeks into the regular season, rumors became rampant that Kaepernick had become persona non grata in the locker room. According to reports, the root of the tension was his relationship with television personality Nessa Diab, the ex-girlfriend of Aldon Smith, then his teammate.
The reports gained more credence when Smith was involved in a hit-and-run mishap after an altercation at practice, which played a role in his eventual release from the team. Kaepernick denied the incident took place, but multiple sources maintained the love triangle was real.
Could there be even more to what troubled Kaepernick this season?
“I can’t really put my finger on it,” Davis said. “I’m not in position to point fingers or say what went wrong. I don’t know. That’s up to [team management] to determine that and fix things around there. It happens all the time. Of course, everyone wants to win. Everybody wants to go back to the Super Bowl, but I mean, unfortunately, it happened that way. Someone has to win, someone has to lose. It just wasn’t the time for the San Francisco 49ers.
“A lot of things happened. A coach was fired, I guess that was [Jim] Harbaugh. We had players retire and players leave. Justin Smith left. … So you don’t have the same components that you had before. But it changes things a lot.”
Many predicted Davis would be a factor after his trade, but the tight end has been even less productive in Denver than before he arrived. He caught 20 balls in nine games with the Broncos, compared to 18 in six with the Niners.
Davis said the transition was “brutal” at the outset.
“Yeah, it took a while for me for me to get adjusted to the climate,” Davis said. “It was brutal at first, but it started to come together.”
Davis still hasn’t scored a touchdown since September 2014, a fact not lost on his many doubters.
“That’s good. That’s what I want them to say,” said Davis, who turned 32 this week. “That’s fine. ’Cause when opportunity comes and I do some of the things I’ve always done, they’ll start to second-guess themselves. So that’s cool. It’s fine. I like it. Perfect. I’ve been here before.”
Now Davis has a chance to claim the big prize that eluded him and the Niners in Super Bowl XLVII, where they fell five yards short of victory.
“I dream about it. I think about it every day, every night,” Davis said. “It’s constantly on my mind. I’m just thinking about that ring. When you get this close, you can’t do anything but think about the ring. It’s a beautiful opportunity for us to be here in Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium, and we have a chance to make history right here. Anything is possible. We just have to stay together.”