Chip Kelly made the announcement that many people had been waiting for last week: Colin Kaepernick would be the starting Quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers.
Kaepernick has made consistent national headlines for what he’s done on the field, without throwing a single pass.
We all know the national anthem protest movement that he has sparked and his reasoning for it. Now, this is his opportunity to prove himself again between the white lines on the playing field, a moment that not only he has been waiting and working for, but also America has been waiting for deep down.
Remember in 2012 when the sports world was enraptured with Kaepernick’s deadly combination of passing and dynamic running ability that helped lead the 49ers to the Super Bowl against the Ravens?
2012 seems like a long time ago now. With his recent poor play the last few seasons and his recent protest, he isn’t doing much to remind America what he’s truly able to do on the football field.
Sunday was his opportunity to silence the critics and rekindle his on-field magic.
During the anthem, people still let Kaepernick know how they felt about the protest and the country as Bills fans could be heard chanting “USA! USA! USA!” through the anthem’s entirety. No booing could be heard from the fans directed at Kaepernick, however, which is a good sign because it shows at least some growth in the forward movement of the protest.
Getting back to football, Kaepernick played pretty well for his first start.
He looked a little rusty, to be expected, completing 13 of 29 passes for 187 yards and a 53 yard touchdown to Wide Receiver Torrey Smith. He also ran the ball eight times for 66 yards, showing that he can still effectively use his legs.
What this game showed is that Kaepernick can potentially get back to his old self throwing the football down the field and breaking off runs for first downs and big gains that keep the chains moving. The 49ers are what their 1-5 record says they are, so despite the 45-16 blowout loss, Kaepernick and the offense showed a spark that can be built upon for the rest of the season.
What this game also and more importantly showed is that there are steps being made in moving forward from the negative backlash of the anthem protest. The fact that the Bills’ fans didn’t hurl explicitly negative comments collectively at Kaepernick is a step in the right direction. Will there still be negative actions directed at him from fans? Sure there will, but the key is that it’s starting to die down and people seem to be respecting his stance and looking at him again as a Quarterback then as a political figure.
With this start, Kaepernick took a huge first step into the resurgence of his career. He deserves to be starting, not because of his activism during the anthem and how he’s handled it, but because he’s a good football player who has worked hard and stayed professional in his journey back to being a starter in this league.
It’s a good sign that we can finally judge him based on what he does during the game again rather than whether he’s sitting, standing or kneeling before the game.
How do you think Kaepernick will fair as the starter after all of this? Let’s talk about it here or find me on Twitter @Phenombc3