NFL AM: Colin Kaepernick Named Starting Quarterback, Again


Back To Kaep

After a full offseason and five “real football games,” San Francisco 49ers head coach Chip Kelly came to the realization that most of us in the National Football League already know:  Blaine Gabbert is not a starting quarterback.

After throwing just four touchdowns and six interceptions in the ‘Niners 1-4 start, Kelly finally pulled the plug on this failed experiment.

Gabbert responded to the news by saying, “It sucks. I don’t like it.”

Kelly is obviously going to former Super Bowl starting quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who had been exiled to the bench since last season.

“We’re going to make a move at quarterback, and we’re going to start Colin this week,” Kelly told reporters during a morning news conference. “(We’re) going to give him an opportunity to run with the ones. I believe you’ve got to do it at the beginning of the week just because of how reps are distributed.”

The 49ers offense was little more than a joke under Gabbert, who still bails on plays far too early, is mostly inaccurate and lacks leadership qualities.  San Francisco ranked 26th in total offense and 31st in passing offense.

“We’ve had a couple of days to digest everything from where we are, and I think offensively we need to be better and just make a move,” Kelly said. “It’s not Blaine’s fault. I think as a group, offensively, we need to be better in a lot of ways.”

Nobody would like losing their job, that part of it makes sense.  The fact that he had the starting job at all is what is more than a little mind-boggling and obviously has to do with things other than what you see on the field.  No, we’re not talking about Kaepernick’s kneeling during the national anthem and his peaceful social protests that have caused him to become a lightning rod for criticism, it has to do with simple dollars and cents.

As Kaep is nearing the completion of a re-worked contract, his old deal is what was likely keeping him on the pine (or on one knee) as he was due $14.5 million in guaranteed money for next season assuming that he can’t pass a physical on April 1st.  That caused the 49ers to simply play the worse quarterback out of nothing more than fear of money lost.

His new deal is expected to reduce the amount of injury guarantees.

“I’m excited and ready to go,” Kaepernick said when asked about reassuming the starting role.

Although it obviously increases the former second-round pick from Nevada’s value to be on the football field, he still has to navigate an offense that’s mostly void of playmakers, has a porous offensive line and he will have plenty of hate and vitriol spewed at him during road games.

Is it a tall task to be successful in a Kelly offense that has seemed to be figured out by the NFL.  Still, Kaepernick gives the 49ers their best chance to win on a weekly basis and everyone knows it.  If they hadn’t made this move, television ratings and ticket sales would have decreased even further, as it’s tough to have the NFL’s priciest ticket and then treat the fans as if they’re stupid.

The 49ers are taking somewhat of a chance with the injury guarantees, but it’s the only chance that general manager Trent Baalke and head coach Chip Kelly might have to keep their jobs in 2017.

Lane Johnson Suspended 10 Games

The 2013 NFL Draft was one of the worst in recent memory as good, productive selections in the first round were few and far in between.  The Philadelphia Eagles were fortunate enough to get one of those when they selected offensive tackle Lane Johnson from Oklahoma.

The Eagles will have to be without Johnson for 10 games for his second violation of the league’s performance enhancing drugs policy.

“We are disappointed with Arbitrator James Carter’s summary ruling,” Johnson’s agent Steve Zashin wrote in the statement obtained by NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo. “We will wait for his formal written opinion. After we review that decision, we will consider all available legal options.”

The suspension went down in August and Johnson played the first four games of the season while he was appealing the ruling.

“We’re very disappointed that Lane Johnson has been suspended 10 games,” Eagles vice president of football operations Howie Roseman said. “His actions have affected the entire organization. We are all working under a clearly-defined set of rules and regulations set forth by the NFL in the collective bargaining agreement with the NFLPA. Moving forward, he has no choice but to hold himself accountable to Jeffrey Lurie, Coach Pederson and his staff, his teammates, and to the entire organization and our fans. When he returns from suspension, we will continue to support him and welcome him back to the team. We are moving on with our preparations for this week’s game in Washington.”

The team will likely start rookie Halapoulivaati Vaitai in Johnson’s place as they will play their first game of the season not having a share of first place after they dropped their first game of the year to the Detroit Lions on Sunday.  To be 3-1 at this point in the year has certainly been a surprise for Philadelphia, as many didn’t believe that rookie quarterback Carson Wentz was going to be ready to play as well as he has.

Philly will get Johnson back in time for the last two games of the season, it remains to be seen if they will still be in playoff contention then.

About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.