For the past several weeks, this has been the question coming from virtually every fan and member of the media regarding quarterback Colin Kaepernick. In three years, he stole veteran Alex Smith’s starting job, took the NFL by storm and won the hearts of 49ers fans everywhere when he had San Francisco just four points from capturing its sixth Super Bowl.
Now, three years later, Kaepernick has been benched in favor of backup Blaine Gabbert. By now, we have all figured out that next season, Kaepernick will no longer be a member of the organization.
Similar to the situation in Washington D.C. with Robert Griffin III, several analysts have argued that Kaepernick will likely ride the bench for the remainder of the season — if head coach Jim Tomsula allows him to start, and the quarterback were to get hurt, it could end up costing San Francisco in more ways than one. And who could blame them for the decision. After all, business decisions are just about the only things the current York regime has handled correctly.
“The handwriting is on the wall,” a league source told Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News in regards to the divorce between Kaepernick and the 49ers. It could be another “mutual parting” in Santa Clara come seasons end.
In a recent radio interview with KNBR 680, Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee told hosts Gary and Larry that he believes Kaepernick wants out. “I think Kaepernick feels like he has been undermined by this organization, he hasn’t been supported by this organization,” Barrows said.
San Francisco will be trying to move a quarterback whose stock is at an all-time low. He’s thrown just six touchdowns this season. Add another five interceptions and a passer rating of 78.5 — a career-low — and the idea that moving the 28-year-old seems pretty dismal.
In any case, here are a few of the (best) places that might be able to use his services, in my opinion.
Philadelphia Eagles — In March, head coach Chip Kelly made a QB-for-QB deal with the St. Louis Rams, sending Nick Foles in exchange for Sam Bradford. The trade hasn’t worked out as either side had intended (more on that later), but the latest out of Philly is worse. The team announced Bradford has sustained a concussion. Adding insult to injury, Bradford crunched his left shoulder after a hard fall to the turf during Sunday’s game against Miami. Bradford is ticketed for free agency, and it’s likely the Eagles won’t be looking to bring him back. Kaepernick is a rare type of NFL quarterback, and his dual-threat capabilities could fit perfectly into Kelly’s system.
St. Louis Rams — Nick Foles hasn’t worked out any better on paper for the Rams than Bradford has for the Eagles. His 79.7 passer rating ranks 27th in the league, and though he’s signed a two-year extension, Foles isn’t set longterm. With the microscope already focused on him, a Week 10 loss to the Chicago Bears will certainly turn the heat up on Foles. Like Kaepernick, he’s been having a difficult time throwing touchdown passes — he’s recorded just one in his past four games.
Houston Texans — After beating out Ryan Mallet, quarterback Brian Hoyer has delivered victories in two of the past three for Houston. However, Hoyer isn’t signed past the 2016 season. In his past five games, Hoyer has completed just 61.3% of his passes, which includes 12 touchdowns and two interceptions. Whether or not the Texans plan on re-signing Hoyer, Kaepernick could make for a great competition during training camp, and at least help the veteran elevate his game.
Washington Redskins — While garnering Rookie of the Year honors, Robert Griffin III was knocked around pretty hard — he hasn’t been quite the same ever since. Kirk Cousins had a fantastic game on Sunday against the Saints, where he authored a dominating 47-14 victory; he is a pending free agent, and it’s unlikely he’ll be re-signed. Regardless, the Redskins have two pretty underwhelming quarterbacks, and head coach Jay Gruden certainly has to be well aware.
Denver Broncos — Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak benched Peyton Manning for at least the first time since I’ve been able to comprehend football in my life on Sunday. He threw four interceptions in the game — Manning has thrown 17 picks since the beginning of the season, and the consensus agrees his career is pretty much over. Watching Manning behind center has become almost as painful as it appears it is for him to stand there. If you could believe it, Manning’s 67.5 passer rating is actually worse than Kaepernick’s. San Francisco general manager Trent Baalke has already gotten cozy with the Broncos during the Vernon Davis deal, so moving Kaepernick may not be that difficult. He may not be ready to go immediately, but a fast-paced offense such as Kubiak’s might be exactly what Kaepernick needs for his re-invention.