A lot of buzz has surrounded the 49ers following San Francisco’s embarrassing 19-3 Thanksgiving loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
There has been speculation about coaching positions, the rightful questioning of a vastly underperforming offensive unit, and of course, chatter about the enigmatic young quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Kaepernick’s lackluster 121-yard, two-interception showing on Thanksgiving could have taken the brunt of the scorn, though more people spoke out against Kaepernick’s inability to speak much at all.
Kaepernick has never been known to be particularly chatty, but the quarterback’s demeanor came under fire in both national and local media following a tense, 87-word interview on Wednesday that was more awkward than informational.
With Kaepernick being a central face of this 49ers franchise, pundits and followers of the team are starting to feel scorned by the quarterback’s unwillingness to deliver insight about the team he leads, a team gasping for breath with a 7-5 record in the tough NFC West.
On Friday, however, Kaepernick received support from a man who is himself no stranger to brevity, head coach Jim Harbaugh:
“He’s very professional. He always stands up. He never dodges or deflects criticism. He takes accountability. He’s honest. He tells the truth. The questions you were asking, he was telling the truth. You’re not going to just be at somebody’s beck and call or bidding. He’s going to act the way he acts. He’s his own person. I appreciate the honesty. That’s who he is. His jaw is set. He’s a team player all the way.”
And Harbaugh is right. Despite the frustration of those looking for an inspirational quote to cure their football hangover, Kaepernick’s curt demeanor isn’t what is sinking the 49ers season.
The focus surrounding Kaepernick should be on his play, which may or may not get this team into the playoffs for a fourth consecutive season.
For Colin Kaepernick at this point in his disappointing season, more reps are likely more important than more words to the media.
Of course, it is easy to be upset when the leader of your franchise doesn’t do what he’s supposed to. But to Harbaugh, being the face of the team doesn’t necessarily equate to face time:
“Face of the franchise quarterback should be a great leader by example, the way he works. A team player all the way. What’s in his heart is about the team. It’s not about himself. And then, you get the raw honesty. He is telling you. You ask him what his mindset is, it’s to work. That’s his approach.”
It’s hardly impossible, though, to balance work ethic with media cheerfulness. The man Kaepernick replaced, Alex Smith, is one of the most courteous quarterbacks in the league when it comes to dealing with the media.
But after a game of poor reads and forced throws, it’s clear the young Kaepernick has a lot to prove to live up to his $126-million contract. And action speaks louder than words.