Back in the summer of 2013, Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers were riding high.
The team had just come off a trip to the Super Bowl and Kaepernick was a young, shining star who had taken over for Alex Smith and dazzled teammates and opponents alike with his strong arm, fast feet and ability to make big-time plays.
Between the Super Bowl and the start of summer training camp, Kaepernick had a busy offseason, appearing at a variety of functions, from the ESPYs to the Country Music Awards and a meeting with Michelle Obama.
At the time, Kaepernick was 25 and had just stepped into the national spotlight. But all the time spent in the glare really wasn’t what Kaepernick was really like, said his father, Rick.
“What can really be confusing to most people is that Colin is a very private, quiet kind of kid, and obviously, this summer, it doesn’t appear that that’s the case,” Rick Kaepernick told Gwenn Knapp of the website Sports On Earth.
Three years later, it’s been suggested that quiet personality may be one of Kaepernick’s problems with the 49ers organization.
After a big slide in production in 2014, a benching and injuries that required surgery, Kaepernick suddenly found himself on the trading block. But the 49ers have been unable so far to swing any kind of deal, so Kaepernick remains with the organization and apparently is in competition with Blaine Gabbert for the team’s starting job in Chip Kelly’s new offense in San Francisco.
Meanwhile, some players and members of the organization have hinted through media reports that Kaepernick has been disengaged and isn't happy about staying with the 49ers. General manager Trent Baalke and Kelly have denied that, saying they expect Kaepernick to bounce back.
But former 49ers QB and Hall of Famer Joe Montana told Sports Illustrated this week that Kaepernick’s personality may be a part of the problem.
Montana acknowledged Kaepernick is a “quiet person,” which can be a problem for a quarterback who’s supposed to be a team leader.
“He doesn’t share a lot, he doesn’t talk to a lot of the guys,” Montana told Sports Illustrated. “And that’s difficult for an offense to operate because the communication between the quarterback and the receiver is one of the most important things.”
Montana said the uncertainty of Kaepernick’s situation just strains relationships on the team.
“When you have a guy who doesn’t really want to be there, you don’t know whether to put yourself behind him or not,” Montana said. “And you want to believe him, but if he doesn’t want to be there then … I’m sure they did everything they could to try and get him some place he’d be happy because it would be best for both teams.”
Kaepernick, meanwhile, has said very little about his situation publicly or on social media. He hasn’t said he wants to stay with the team. He hasn’t said if he’s excited to run Kelly’s offense and get a fresh start. He hasn’t said he’s going to fight to win the starting job.
Until he does, it may be hard for teammates to fully support him.