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I believe Colin Kaepernick is a nice young man, a fine young man. It is my Christmas wish that he will act like the fine young man I believe him to be.

I remember when the 49ers drafted him. At least, I think I remember. In my recollection, he and his parents drove to 49ers headquarters, where they were introduced to the media on draft day. It was a lovely scene, and everything about those people said they are a strong, normal family. I want to use the word heartwarming.

Cut to now. Kaepernick is the 49ers quarterback. He is in the spotlight and I’m sure that is difficult for him — he’s so new to it all. He needs to be more polite. He needs to be the nice young man I met that day with his parents.

Because he is the starting quarterback, he meets the media after games. That’s how it works. We ask questions and he answers. That’s how it works. The questions are always polite. His answers should be polite. But he has become a little Jim Harbaugh. He doesn’t actually answer. He does verbal fencing. He is on the defensive. Like Harbaugh, he treats the media like the enemy although the media is not his enemy.

It is so sad to see this.

When Joe Montana started out, he was charming in his innocence. He always tried to answer questions. Steve Young was always Steve — so engaging. Kaepernick could learn from them, could learn he has nothing to lose by being a nice young man and by showing joy and enthusiasm.

The other day a reporter for another paper — a good reporter and a friend of mine — asked Kaepernick a few easy questions about Michael Crabtree for a feature he was writing. The way Kaepernick reacted you would have thought the reporter asked the formula for atomic fusion. Asked what makes Crabtree good, Kaepernick shot back, “He catches the ball.”

Come on. Every wideout catches the ball. Was there no more polite or helpful way to answer? And there’s something else. By not really answering, Kaepernick was being rude to Crabtree. This was an opportunity to praise a teammate. He could have said Crabtree has soft hands, runs great routes, is ferocious going after the ball. Would it have hurt so much for Kaepernick to praise his receiver?

This is so sad.

Alex Smith, at times, tried the rude Harbaugh word-minimalist approach. You could see him feeling embarrassed and then, what the heck, he’d answer like a real man. Alex Smith is very nice and you know when his career is over he will be successful and fulfilled. Kaepernick could learn a thing or two from him about being a grownup in the world.

I hate to think Kaepernick, so young, his whole future ahead of him, is turning into the Grinch. It is so unnecessary and just so darned sad.

 

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