Colin Kaepernick has always been a prideful athlete.
Amidst silly questions of his professionalism over Instagram posts and tattoos, the fifth year veteran preferred to show his dedication to his craft with hard work on and off the football field.
That’s why when the struggling quarterback finally broke his media silence just five days after being demoted from his starting position, he seemed to be uncomfortable and at odds with the coaching staff that took away his one professional outlet.
Speaking to Bay Area media, Kaepernick stated that the “pressure” that both head coach Jim Tomsula and offensive coordinator Geep Chryst had mentioned earlier in the week as the reason for his benching was lost on the veteran quarterback.
“I don’t believe in pressure. Pressure is not being prepared for what you want to do. To me, I’ve played full seasons and been successful. It’s something mentally I’ve been through before. I’m not incapable of going through things.”
Now, however, he won’t be allowed the chance to work through it as he had before. His chance ended after two consecutive poor performances where he threw for just 286-yards and no touchdowns.
But does backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert really give the 49ers a better chance? Is he suddenly going to keep the offensive line from getting run through like wet paper? Is Gabbert going to fix the aging and injured offensive cast?
We’ll see on Sunday. But the decision to bench Kaepernick is more than just a small experiment. It signals the severing of a relationship between Kaepernick and the 49ers front office.
Let’s just look at how Tomsula — who lobbied so adamantly and surely in support of Kaepernick earlier in the season — told his struggling quarterback he lost his job.
“They told me they were going to sit me. And that was about the extent of the conversation.”
And when asked if he agreed with Tomsula’s sentiment about him having the chance to step back and breathe a bit with his demotion?
“I’m not out of breath, so I don’t understand that reference.”
Kaepernick isn’t stupid, he knew what Tomsula was trying to say. But his retort, said with a telltale smirk, shows that the lack of faith in the ability for people to do their job in the 49ers organization is a two-way street.
Whether or not Kaepernick was benched this week didn’t guarantee that his future with the 49ers was secure.
Maybe San Francisco let him ride this season out and still decides to use their almost assuredly high draft pick to snag a promising young quarterback.
But the manner in which Kaepernick was benched is embarrassing to everyone. To an athlete who prides himself on being able to play. And to an organization that has lost all credibility with their actions.
“Jim is my coach.” Remember that anyone? It sounds awfully familiar to “Colin is our quarterback.”
But just like Harbaugh, Kaepernick is probably hoping the organization decides to move on from him.
Kaepernick remained diplomatic when he was asked if he felt he was the new fall-guy for the 49ers, stating that it wasn’t his place to pass judgement on that issue.
He tried to again deflect an even better question, but left an answer open for interpretation instead.
When asked by Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee whether he believed the 49ers used his team-friendly contract to help support him with weapons on offense, his answer was a bit more telling.
“That’s not something for me to say. I just try to do my part to help this organization, help this team, and do everything I can to help us be successful.”
Kaepernick may not want to stir the pot-at least not until he gets cut or traded (Vernon Davis), but the first sentence tells it all. He has an opinion on the job that Trent Baalke and Jed York did over the offseason, and it’s likely a bad one, he just won’t say it.
Throughout the entirety of the conversation with reporters, Kaepernick never once came off as anything less than professional. He supported Gabbert by trying not to detract from his promotion. And even when baited with easy ways to trash the coaching staff who just hurt his career, he decided to play dumb with a smile instead.
Friday’s conversation with the media made Kaepernick even more dangerous to the organization.
He was a guy who drew a lot of ire for his antics on and off the field. But on Friday, he came across as likable. A guy who was the victim of yet another coaching staff mishap.
Kaepernick used to prefer to let his play do the talking. But now his best way to get back at the team that scorned him is to let his talking do the talking. And he’s off to a good start.