Just a few months ago it seemed no one had anything good to say about Colin Kaepernick’s future with the 49ers.
He was coming off three surgeries, had lost his starting job to Blaine Gabbert in 2015 and was on the trading block. His representatives, in fact, asked the 49ers for permission to seek a trade.
Reports quoted sources within the organization as saying Kaepernick had lost the faith of his teammates and that many believed more in Gabbert than Kaepernick.
Now, with training camp under way, it appears Kaepernick has a new energy and enthusiasm and is winning hearts and minds.
He also appears to be showing that he may thrive in Chip Kelly’s fast-paced spread offense that often employs the read-option.
On Monday, Grant Cohn of The Press Democrat in Santa Rosa reported that Kaepernick – working with both the second and first teams – had a much better day than Gabbert. Kaepernick completed 16-of-20 throws with no interceptions, while Gabbert was 14-of-23 with an interception.
Plus, 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said the team is seeing a happy, motivated and fit Kaepernick in this camp.
“Colin, by all accounts – you saw him today, he’s worked hard, he’s got his weight back, smile on his face, ready to go to work and compete,” Baalke told Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee. “And that’s the most important thing for these guys.”
Kaepernick and Gabbert are splitting snaps with both the first and second teams in practice, and Kelly and Baalke said the competition is wide open for the starting job.
After injuries, surgery and rehab early in the offseason, Kaepernick was unable to lift weights and work out as he usually does, so he lost some of his muscle mass. But Kaepernick told reporters that once he was cleared to work out, he set out to get back to his normal self by the opening of camp. Through lifting and eating, he’s back to his normal weight and physique in time to duel with Gabbert.
“I don’t look like my high school self anymore,” Kaepernick said, according to Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle. “I feel like I look more like an adult now.”