Even before the 49ers put Colin Kaepernick on the IR this morning, it was clear that he was ancillary to the team’s plans going forward. Coach Jim Tomsula benched him in favor of Blaine Gabbert (Blaine Gabbert!) for their Week 9 win over the Falcons before the extent of his shoulder injury was revealed. The injury never showed up on the team’s injury report until this week when he was listed as probable ahead of the 49ers trip to Seattle tomorrow.
While a benching and a season-ending injury don’t necessarily add up to an inevitable departure, both certainly aren’t good signs for an already out of favor quarterback. A players only meeting dissolved into a fight over Kaepernick’s play, the Niners kept the ball out of Kaepernick’s hands on third downs, and Tomsula seems to have pretty much moved on from Kaepernick altogether. He recently said of the situation:
“As far as Blaine, I like what Blaine did, I like where he’s at. We’re going to continue with Blaine,” Tomsula said. “Blaine did a nice job and I liked where he was, I liked the way he handled the game, I liked the way he played the game. Move forward with Blaine, and we’ll go from there.”
This sounds a lot like someone who doesn’t have faith Colin Kaepernick as a quarterback. That he refuses to even evaluate his ability to regain the job ahead of a man who has gone 6-22 in his career is telling.
If this situation sounds like the Robert Griffin III fiasco, that’s because it is, minus a spurious concussion diagnosis. Both quarterbacks led their teams to great success early in their careers before new coaches came in and marginalized them to the point of irrelevance. Now Kirk Cousins and Blaine Gabbert are leading Washington and San Francisco respectively, and both former star quarterbacks’ futures with their teams look bleak. Regaining their starting jobs means not just overcoming the quarterbacks ahead of them, but regaining the trust of a skeptical pair of coaching staffs.
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