San Francisco 49ers

Will he stay or will he go? Speculation swirls around Kaepernick’s future

Sacramento Bee Sports Staff

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) walks off the field after the 34-17 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Levi's Stadium on Oct. 23, 2016 in Santa Clara.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) walks off the field after the 34-17 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Levi's Stadium on Oct. 23, 2016 in Santa Clara. pkitagaki@sacbee.com

With Colin Kaepernick expected to opt out of his contract Thursday, speculation is swirling around the country about where the quarterback will continue his career.

The Bee’s Matt Barrows reports that Kaepernick is open to returning to San Francisco, but that would mean a more modest contract – likely after he tests the free agency market.

Barrows has more on how 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan views the situation, including how the front office will evaluate Kaepernick with the same scrutiny as any other free agent.

Below is a sampling of how the Kaepernick developments are being analyzed in national sports media right now.

Frank Schwab of Yahoo! Sports weighs the good and the bad: “Before even getting to the national anthem protests, Kaepernick is no sure thing as a quarterback. Though, he is still intriguing in some ways. Kaepernick peaked in 2012 and 2013, and has never recaptured that. However, his 2016 season included enough positives to pique teams’ curiosity, and just enough negatives to make prospective employers nervous.”

David Steele of Sporting News views it as what could be the end of a toxic relationship: “A team could do a whole lot worse, as a backup or even a starter, than a seven-year vet who’s been to a Super Bowl. ... It needs to be another team, though. Kaepernick and the 49ers can finally make a clean break. Besides York, he’s the last character in that soap opera to exit the stage.”

Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that the Browns won’t pursue him: “The Browns might soon be heartbroken by Jimmy Garoppolo, but they won’t pursue 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick on the rebound despite Hue Jackson’s heavy interest last year, a league source told cleveland.com.”

Ryan Glasspiegel of The Big Lead says Kaepernick is no longer of starting caliber and questions whether a team would want a backup who would draw so much attention: “One interesting wrinkle to track this offseason is if Kaepernick would think it’s worth it to keep playing on a ‘prove it’ deal if there aren’t any opportunities available to him to start.”

Darryl Slater of The New Jersey Star-Ledger entertains the idea of Kaepernick as a Jet: “While ex-Jets quarterback Boomer Esiason thinks it is a bad idea, Kaepernick does have a background with the Jets’ new offensive coordinator, John Morton, who was the 49ers’ wide receivers coach from 2011-14.”

Rodger Sherman of The Ringer says Kaepernick is average, and there’s a market for that: “Teams in need of a quarterback have a few options — taking a flyer on Tony Romo, waiting to see what happens with Jay Cutler or Tyrod Taylor, using a first-round draft pick on a questionable prospect like Mitch Trubisky — but Kaepernick is one of the most reasonable options available.”

Compiled by Jon Schultz

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