Though Colin Kaepernick remains jobless in the NFL, he still has a fan in a respected member of the coaching community. Jim Harbaugh, the ex-49ers coach and current Michigan coach who guided Kaepernick to his best seasons in San Francisco, believes Kaepernick will go on to be a great quarterback and win championships.
That’s what Harbaugh has been telling NFL teams when they’ve called to ask him about Kaepernick. And according to Harbaugh, teams have been calling.
“I’ll tell you the same thing I tell them: I think he’s an outstanding player and I think he’s a great competitor who has proven it in games and has the ability to be not only an NFL starter but a great NFL player,” Harbaugh told “PFT Live.”
He continued: “He’ll have a great career and be a great quarterback, win championships,”
“Great” might be a bit of an exaggeration, but the idea of Kaepernick being an NFL starter isn’t. As I wrote last year, Kaepernick’s regression has always been a bit overblown. In the right system and on the right team, Kaepernick can still function as an effective dual-threat quarterback. Remember, guys like Mike Glennon and Josh McCown will likely start this season. There’s no doubt that Kaepernick is as good and, quite frankly, better than both of them. Yet Kaepernick remains unsigned after his rough 2016 season, which he spent on a terrible 49ers team.
Of course, factors other than his on-the-field product might be at play -- namely his protest against racial injustice in the U.S. Before games this past season, Kaepernick kneeled for the national anthem. He was joined by many players around the league.
As our Will Brinson recently wrote, “Many NFL owners tilt towards being conservative by nature,” which means they could be avoiding Kaepernick due to his protest and his beliefs. It’s worth noting, however, that Kaepernick reportedly won’t kneel before the national anthem this season. It’s also worth noting that Kaepernick has continually backed up his protest with his wallet. During the season, he pledged a million dollars to charities that support communities in need and he’s now helping bring food and water to Somalia.
Last week, an unnamed AFC general manager told Bleacher Report that some teams are avoiding Kaepernick because they “fear the backlash from fans” and “they think there might be protests or [President Donald] Trump will tweet about the team.” That general manager also said that some teams don’t think Kaepernick can still play at an high-enough level while others “genuinely hate him and can’t stand what he did [kneeling for the national anthem].”
“And you know, your San Francisco quarterback,” Trump said, via TMZ (by way of PFT). “I’m sure nobody ever heard of him. I’m just reporting the news. There was an article today -- I love to report the news and then they said I made a mistake, right? I said, ‘No, the people reporting the news made a mistake if it’s wrong.’ But there was an article today, it was reported that NFL owners don’t want to pick him up because they don’t want to get a nasty tweet from Donald Trump. Do you believe that? I just saw that. I just saw that. I said if I remember that one I’m gonna report it to the people of the Kentucky. Because they like it when people actually stand for the American flag.”
If Kaepernick doesn’t land with an NFL team, the CFL is an option. But there’s no reason for Kaepernick to panic at this stage in the offseason. Free agency is only two weeks old. I’d be willing to bet that someone will sign him at some point before the season.
At the very least, someone should sign him, because Kaepernick is still one of the best 32 quarterbacks in the league right now.