Read through my Twitter timeline and you’ll find I pull no punches when it comes to Colin Kaepernick.
The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback has been out of football since 2016. Cynics and skeptics have used words like “blackballed” and “banishment” when describing Kaepernick’s inability to land on an NFL roster. The word “collusion” has been freely tossed around second only to the Russian variety.
In short: roughly half the country feels that Kaepernick’s kneeling during the national anthem before games has led to the demise of his football career.
The other half thinks that’s only half-true. They think there’s something deficient in his game, too.
Months and seasons have passed by, and Kaepernick’s legend has only grown. As NFL quarterbacking has continued to flounder due to ineffective backups, a common refrain among Kaepernick’s supporters has grown stronger.
“Colin Kaepernick is not better than these guys?!”
Kaepernick came out of nowhere
Kaepernick burst onto the national scene in 2012, during his second year in the league.
After Kaepernick began the season on the bench, starting quarterback Alex Smith suffered a concussion midseason. Kaepernick stepped right in, dazzled with his scrambling ability and arm strength, and won some games for the 49ers.
A quarterback controversy began, and head coach Jim Harbaugh named Kaepernick the starter and he even helped lead them to the Super Bowl that year.
But just how good was Kaepernick as a quarterback? A closer look at his statistics will reveal some underwhelming numbers.
Breaking down Kaepernick’s numbers
Kaepernick was a “thing” in the NFL mostly because of his rushing ability. Think of a less dynamic Lamar Jackson.
In six seasons in the league, he averaged 33.3 rushing yards per game and 6.1 yards per attempt. For context, Jackson is averaging 78 rushing yards per game and 6.6 yards per attempt. So, clearly Kaepernick was versatile, but not really close to Jackson’s MVP performance this season.
But quarterback rushing is one thing. What kind of passer was Kaepernick?
In Kaepernick’s four and a half seasons as a starter, he only once averaged over 200 yards passing per game (and to be fair, he averaged 199.8 one season). For his career, he averaged 177.8 passing yards per game. This year, 31 quarterbacks are averaging more than that — in fact, Kaepernick would rank just one spot ahead of the Bears’ Mitch Trubisky.
How about his accuracy?
Kaepernick has a career 59.8 completion percentage. Again, 30 NFL quarterbacks in 2019 have a better completion percentage than that — including Trubisky.
How about ball security?
Kaepernick actually fared well at protecting the football. Only once in his four and a half years as a starter did he throw at least 10 interceptions. But, stats can be deceiving. Kaepernick just didn’t throw the ball very much. In total, Kaepernick averaged one interception per 56.4 pass attempts. By comparison, Trubisky is averaging one interception per 45.5 pass attempts — slightly worse than Kaepernick.
But Kaepernick’s interception-per-attempt total would rank him 16th in the NFL this year — 10 spots below Trubisky, mind you.
Kaepernick’s ‘wow factor’ more impressive than his statistics
What does all this number-crunching mean?
It means Kaepernick’s ability to pick up yards with his legs, paired with his ever-growing, media-fueled legendary status, has created a false narrative of just how good he really is.
Meaning: he’s really not. Do you know who else averages about 177.8 passing yards per game, completes about 59.8% of his passes, and averages about 6.1 yards per carry?
Mitch Trubisky — (In his career, he’s averaged 230.2 passing yards per game, has completed 63.5% of his passes, and averages 5.9 yards per rushing attempt).
Is Kaepernick better than most of the backups in the NFL? Quite possibly, yes. And maybe he’ll earn a backup role after his audition this week.
But disrespecting our country’s flag — “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” — didn’t sit well with many proud American NFL fans. And angering the fanbase reflected poorly on the NFL’s bottom line. And it is a business, after all.
Thus, Kaepernick really did this to himself. And willingly, at that.
Bears still should send representation to the Kaepernick workout
Um, what? After all that, I’m still advocating the Bears attend Kaepernick’s league-organized workout?
Yes. And here’s why:
The Bears’ quarterback position is not right. And I think it’s incumbent upon general manager Ryan Pace to leave no stone unturned until he finally fixes the position.
And even though I believe Kaepernick is overrated and not worth the hype or the distraction, and although I feel the Bears should refrain from signing the free agent quarterback, I still think they should at least give him a look.Topics: Colin Kaepernick, Mitch Trubisky, Ryan Pace