CHICAGO — OK, all of you Colin Kaepernick sympathizers, let’s hear the excuses …
The snow was too wet. The crowd was too loud. The ball didn’t bounce the right way. The Chicago Bears tried too hard. The ghosts of Soldier Field were too vindictive …
Balls has one, too.
Kaepernick played too sucky.
On Sunday, Kaepernick and Santa Clara got beat by third-stringer Matt Barkley, for gosh sakes. Got beat good, 26-6.
That’s right, Matt Freakin’ Barkley. The retread quarterback that Santa Clara coach Chip Kelly drafted then traded while with the Philadelphia Eagles a year ago.
In one of the lamest, most gutless performances in franchise history, Kaepernick completed one pass for four yards in five attempts. He also was sacked five times for minus-25 yards before Kelly finally pulled him in the fourth quarter.
Worse yet, Kaepernick wimped out. He ran only six times for 20 yards. Where were all the trademark scrambles? When Kaepernick doesn’t run, he and his team are flat outta luck.
Yeah, the wet conditions made it more difficult to move the ball, but it wasn’t the kind of wind-whipped day that made it impossible to throw it. Didn’t seem bother to Barkley much. He completed 11 balls for 192 yards and nary an interception, showed the kind of touch that Kaepernick could only dream to have.
Besides, franchise quarterbacks don’t make excuses. They make plays regardless of the situation.
MR. WATSON, COME HERE: If the latest embarrassment convinces the higher-ups that the Kaepernick era has run its course finally, it’s well worth it.
Santa Clara moved two games ahead of the Bears in the race for the second pick in the NFL Draft. Anyone who has watched Clemson’s Deshaun Watson the last few weeks knows that he should be its quarterback of the future.
In the ACC Championship Game one night earlier, Watson displayed poise and maturity. Threw accurately in tight coverage. Ran effectively when necessary. Elevated his teammates to a higher level. Sure, he made some mistakes, but he just turned 21 years old. Give him some time.
A lot can and will happen before the draft, but it’s not too early to speculate.
Provided they run the table, the winless Cleveland Browns could take Watson at the top spot. In that case, Santa Clara could target Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer, who has drawn comparisons to Steve McNair, the one-time Super Bowl quarterback and Most Valuable Player. At the same time, the Browns have other needs and may want to upgrade the defense. In which case Watson will be available.
Anybody but Kaepernick.
VIC’S REVENGE: The Bears (3-9) are no bargains themselves, but Vic Fangio’s 11th-ranked defense has remained competitive despite a slew of injuries to core players.
As you might recall, Fangio was beaten out by Jim Tomsula for the head position one year ago, another sign of general manager Trent Baalke’s astute talent evaluation.
PLAY OF THE GAME: Santa Clara appeared to score on a blocked punt in the second quarter, but Dontae Johnson stepped out bounds on the return. Trouble was, Johnson was unaware of the fact and celebrated the apparent touchdown with snow angels in the end zone.
Hey, dude, your team had a 1-10 record and lost 10-straight games, remember?
OR WAS IT THIS ONE …? On his third TD of the game, the Bears’ Jordan Howard and his o-line moved the pile five yards to the end zone.
Or far enough that sieve cornerback Tramaine Brock thought “Aw, the hell with it” and backed off.
OK, THIS ONE …? In the third quarter, Kaepernick had all day to make a deep throw to Shaun Draughn … but the under-thrown pass bounced off the helmet of Bears linebacker John Timu instead.
NOT WORTH THE TIME: #BoycottNFL was the real winner in this one.
In the first quarter, two of the saddest teams in the league turned pro football back 28 years. Neither completed a pass, the first time that had happened since the 1988 season. The first completion came midway in the second period.
This is what the modern NFL has come to, boys and girls.
KNEE-JERK REACTION: It was ignorance as usual for Kaepernick before the game. He knelt for the national anthem despite pleas by veterans, firefighters and police officers to show respect for the flag at Soldier Field, named in tribute of those who’ve died in combat.
“He can protest all he wants, and honestly, I’m not sure what he’s protesting for,” said veteran Jim Frazier, whose son was killed in the Afghanistan war so Kaepernick could steal money in this country. “But at $19 million per year, I think that he could probably put his mouth and his money to better use instead of just kneeling and disrespecting the flag.”
PAID VACATION: The weather forecast wasn’t good for Chicago all week. So why not have the team practice in Canada for a few days, right?
But, no, Kelly and Baalke took the team to sunny Orlando. Basically, the Faithless paid for their heroes to take a vacation in the dead of the season.
Is it any wonder that the Phony-Niners look like one one of the least prepared teams in the league every week?
HELP NEEDED: Baalke revealed that he had spent some time with old friend Bill Belichick “talking ball, watching the film, talking through our roster” in Florida.
Here’s what Balls thinks: Baalke sucked up to Belichick for a job next season.
TRY WINNING FOR ONCE: Baalke also bragged that his team played hard despite its sorry record.
Because, you know, at an average salary of $1.9 million, NFL players don’t get paid enough to play hard one day every week.
YOUR TURN: “I’m boycotting the NFL except for Raiders games. Phony-Niners, stay in Santa Clara and enjoy the wine-and-cheese croissant sandwiches.” — Bill Bower, San Francisco
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