Over the past couple of years the 49ers have been a dysfunctional organization. They’ve forced out a successful head coach, hired a successor who proved to be in over his head and sent all sorts of mixed messages about the balance of power within the organization. Jim Tomsula was given votes of confidence as head coach but then let go after just one very rough season.
Now it appears there may be more of the same in store for 49ers fans.
Though a new head coach, Chip Kelly, is in place and Kelly and general manager Trent Baalke insist they have good communication with each other and with all other members of the organization, communication looked anything but good on Thursday.
Once again, the 49ers were sending out mixed messages.
At the NFL Combine in Indianapolis this week, both Kelly and Baalke insisted that quarterback Colin Kaepernick wants to stay with the team.
“He wants to be here,” Kelly told reporters. “He never expressed to me that he didn’t want to be here. He expressed to me that he’s excited about getting healthy and getting going. And we’re excited about him getting healthy, getting going.”
Kelly also said he’s eager to see what Kaepernick can do this season.
“Kap’s really good,” he said. “I mean, he had the ball on the 5-yard line (about) … to win a Super Bowl. You can just look at the tape to see how talented he is. You know, our job is acquiring talent, not getting rid of talent.”
Baalke, too, told the media this week that he expected Kaepernick to be with the team in early April for the beginning of its offseason training program.
But a different message came out of the Kaepernick camp Thursday that contradicted Kelly and Baalke.
The NFL Network’s Rand Getlin, citing a source, reported that Kaepernick’s agents have requested permission from the 49ers to seek a trade. Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported the team has not yet granted that request.
NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal wrote that the contrary reports raise “plenty of questions.”
“How will the 49ers respond?” he wrote. “Have they been talking up their attachment to Kaepernick publicly as leverage to trade talks that they suspected were coming? He was one of the NFL’s most ineffective starters in 2015, is coming off surgery and has a sizable contract.
“The last two years have been full of drama in San Francisco. This trade request guarantees that won’t change any time soon.”
So far, Kaepernick has been silent publicly about his wishes. But the whole mixed-message scenario is a familiar one, says longtime columnist Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group.
“If there is a wrong turn or false move to make, if there is a public-relations tumble to take, somebody in a 49ers leadership position will do it,” he wrote. “It’s like they’re compelled to commit public idiocy on a regular basis.”