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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  1. Neal


    Other then Vernon Davis who speaks his mind, most of the Niner’s are drinking Harbaugh Kool-Aid.

    December 25th, 2012 11:38 am

  2. Raffaele

    Jim Harbaugh hates the media His dislike has been observed by his coaches and his players, and mostly they emulate what Harbaugh puts out when interacting with the media: brief, non-informative, sometimes sarcastic replies.

    Maybe Kaepernick developed his smart-guy attitude on his own. Maybe Kaepernick learned this from watching Harbaugh in action. And maybe Harbaugh took Kaepernick aside and lectured him on how to treat the media. I think the latter explanation applies. Since Harbaugh sees the media as an enemy, he would have said that Kaepernick should do that also.

    If my belief is accurate, then Kaepernick will not go back to being the nice young man you saw at draft time. His head coach likes the new Kaepernick’s approach to the media and that positive reinforcement will keep the smart-guy attitude in place. It’s too bad; a good kid becomes a coach’s tool.

    December 25th, 2012 12:06 pm

  3. htwaits

    I’m not going to comment on your latest morality tale. Happy Holidays.

    December 25th, 2012 12:13 pm

  4. Frank in Minnesota

    I think the young man is learning some bad habits from his coach……

    December 25th, 2012 12:31 pm

  5. Frank in Minnesota

    …oh, and Merry Christmas to you and yours, Lowell!!!!

    December 25th, 2012 12:32 pm

  6. Stan

    He’s doing,”like father,like son”. Like Smith,when CK is pushed aside and he’s older..he will wish he has just been himself. Let Jim fight the windmills in his mind.

    December 25th, 2012 1:09 pm

  7. RZ

    The world doesn’t revolve around how people treat you!
    If Harbaugh et. al. treat the media as the enemy, there is some justification.

    December 25th, 2012 1:30 pm

  8. PhD

    I have to agree that it’s usually unnecessary to respond to the press this way. I understand JH not wanting to divulge information that might compromise the team’s ability to game plan and win, but he too takes it to an unnecessary level that is far beyond that. The other thing it does is make people that are not Niners fans (and even some that are) dislike him, which he probably doesn’t care about, but if all things are equal and there’s nothing to be gained by being disliked, wouldn’t you rather be liked than disliked?

    December 25th, 2012 1:30 pm

  9. Pat

    I was a newspaper reporter for 40 years. In that time I learned there are people who are a delight to interview, eager to express their opinions. Then there are those who are terse and tense in their answers, perhaps afraid to say the wrong thing that could embarrass themselves. Young Kap falls into the second category, but perhaps only because of his immaturity and unfamiliarity with the big stage. Or he’s been gagged by Harbaugh, warned against saying too much that might reveal too much. I think it’s a combination of both. My concern is more with Harbaugh, who dismisses reporters questions with malice. I’m also a season ticketholder who wants those questions answered.

    December 25th, 2012 1:47 pm

  10. CohnZohn

    Neal, Donte Whitner is forthright. Ricky Jean Francois too

    December 25th, 2012 3:34 pm

  11. CohnZohn

    RZ, This is a warped response.

    December 25th, 2012 3:36 pm

  12. Daniel

    After watching his presser after the last game I wonder if he can handle a storm?

    December 25th, 2012 3:49 pm

  13. Dennis

    How can you write a column like “Jim Harbaugh is over-rated” and then ask why these guys don’t make nice to the media? If I was Harbaugh or anyone who played for him I wouldn’t say anything more than I needed to. There is absolutely no upside to do anything more.

    You complain that your subjects are not helping you do your job. Maybe, but you should go look in the mirror and ask yourself what are you doing to deserve their help. Telling them that they are over-rated? Please, lets be serious here.

    December 25th, 2012 4:00 pm

  14. CohnZohn

    Dennis, if Harbaugh, in your opinion, does not get a fair break from the media, he brought it on himself. He is a public-relations liability. Or have you just returned to Earth? No one, and I mean no one, has been hard on Kaepernick or called him overrated. He needs to act better and there is no reason not to. Having said all that, I also say Merry Christmas to you and yours and thanks for your comments over the years.

    December 25th, 2012 4:05 pm

  15. lameduck

    Don’t these kids receive “media” training? If so, that department needs to do a better job. Oh yeah, Merry Christmas!

    December 25th, 2012 4:36 pm

  16. b4huxley

    I’m glad Harbaugh deals with the media the way he does. He gains nothing by cozying up to the media, the media will always stab him the back as news pieces today are based on rampant sensationalism. Why would he be nice to the media if whenever he loses they write things questioning his credibility.
    Im honestly suprised you haven’t seen this before Lowell, Harbaugh is a sore loser. He is rampantly competitive and especially after a loss he really doe not want to deal with reporters at all. If you look at the man as nothing but a fanatically competitive person it makes sense that he would believe any edge for a win is worth taking no matter the sacrafices. That would explain why he benched Alex and why he is so tight lipped with the media anything that could ever be used against his team is evil.

    December 25th, 2012 6:14 pm

  17. Rob

    I just read the drunk driving arrest report on Harbaugh from 2005 — just a short time before he was divorced — while he was still coach at San Diego. He did and does seem to have issues, and they go beyond a simple anti-media antipathy. They seem much more deep seated than that. Perhaps as that one Seattle Seahawk player said, Harbaugh really has never grown up, is still very much a kid, and acts accordingly. Everything — everything — is very black an white.

    December 25th, 2012 7:07 pm

  18. Mike W.

    I’ve got 3 rules a team can follow to never win a Superbowl.

    1. Make the media out to an enemy.
    2 Treat the refs like they’re an enemy.
    3. Treat your opponents like they’re an enemy.

    Because the media doesn’t care whether you win or lose. But if you treat them like an enemy. They have the freedom to write whatever they want to tear you down.

    Every time a player throws up their hands and argues with the refs on every call. The refs just usually start nit picking every potential penalty on your team. It’s hard enough trying to beat your opponents on top of the refs. Don’t make the game harder than it already is.

    If you treat your opponents like an enemy, like trash talking pre-game, or during the game, or rubbing someone the wrong way. Then you’re just giving your opponent more motivation than they already had to beat you. All your opponent is, is an obstacle standing in the way of your ultimate goal. A Superbowl. No reason to make the game personal against your opponent. Because they might not be that excited to play you, that is until someone on your team starts talking trash, or rubbed someone the wrong way. And you could tell the Seahawks took the game personally. That’s SF’s fault for making the Seahawks into a rivalry. All rivalry games to is make the game a lot more difficult to play. It might be nice for football fans to watch. But it doesn’t do your team any favors.

    Harbaugh’s a good coach. But I think he can involve his emotions a little to much in the wrong venues. You want to play with passion, emotion, and motivation. But that emotion should all be directed at performing on the field. Not making a mini-series media drama. That’s not who the 49′ers were in the past. That was Oakland’s job to be the immature kid in the League. And as you can see, it hasn’t worked out very well for Oakland over the years. But that’s the identity they embrace. I’m not sure if SF’s really wants to go down the road.

    December 25th, 2012 7:45 pm

  19. mendozaline

    Lowell, Here is Steve Young recently talking about Jerry Rice:
    “Steve Young was the San Francisco 49ers’ primary quarterback in 1995 when
    Jerry Rice set the NFL record for receiving yards in a season.
    As Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson approaches the record
    – he is 182 yards away from breaking it —
    Young said the two receivers have an important similarity.

    Like Rice, Young said in the video, Johnson “does things despite the whole building,
    80,000 people and the defense and the coaches, knowing I have to get it to Calvin Johnson,
    and he still does it. That’s exactly like Jerry Rice. Everyone knew Jerry Rice was going to get the
    football, and he still got it. There are very few people that can handle that kind of attention,
    that kind of focus from defenses, particularly week after week after week, and still find ways to get the football.”"

    Young said nothing specific about Rice’s abilities.
    Would you apply the same criticism to Young’s statement that you are applying to Kaepernick’s?
    What is the difference in the content in these 2 answers?

    December 25th, 2012 9:03 pm

  20. Fansince 77

    I got nothing against KAP. He’s a fine man. I am not a Smith lover. I always felt this switch, in the way it was done at the time it was done, was going to test KAP mentally off the field when things go bad. He’s been put in an enormous amount of pressure, in the most unique of circumstances. Sure, this is when players step and rise to the occassion, but it can also scar them.

    You can tell KAP cares about the the team, and wants to do well, but if they don’t get to the SB, all fingers point to him, regardless if he deserves it or not, even thought it’s a team game.

    Like Lowell, said, he’s the quarterback. It goes with the territory.

    December 25th, 2012 10:27 pm

  21. Steve the cat rescuer

    I’ve been a fan of every local team except the Raiders since moving to the Bay Area more than a quarter century ago. Contrasting the class of the Giants with the crass of the Niners (particularly Harbaugh and now Kaepernick) I’m actually at the point of hoping they lose in the first round of the season, just so Harbaugh gets the comeuppance he deserves. He’s a sore loser, but worse he’s a sore winner. Kap revelled in the glory of winning but couldn’t handle losing with any class whatsoever. Tim K had a similar take on his blog, including the complete transcript of the presser. I’ve never seen Bochy or the current group of Giants players be anything but polite and classy, regardless of winning or losing. A few months ago I predicted on this blog that the Niners season could easily spiral downward with the locker room splintering apart. I sense I may have been right. And btw, Alex has always appeared to be a standup guy.

    December 25th, 2012 10:38 pm

  22. Tim F.

    The media is not the player’s friends. And they will write stories to tear down athletes no matter how polite they are. If i were a player, i would be disgusted at some of the articles out there. Some are downright insulting. I think they handle the media fine especially after a hard loss. i mean, what do you want them to be like after a hard fought game. Most of the time, it seems the stupid questions asked by the media are asked to get a rise out of a player or coach just so they can write a story. its annoying. They dont owe the media anything. in the meantime, im sure the media can find something else to tear this great player down like they did with his tattoos? what a joke! Ill be surprised if this comment even stays on here because its the truth. nothing abusive about it and im open to feedback. hope everyone had a good Christmas!

    December 26th, 2012 2:36 am

  23. JNC1975

    Kaepernick is a football player not a writer. Writers must be nice or they wont get attention, Kaepernick will play football with or without the media. Non-story!

    December 26th, 2012 8:27 am

  24. Jumbo Shrimp

    Are you sure this doesn’t have to do with your interaction with Kaepernick in Seattle? You know, the one where you were fighting the flu and probably not at 100% yourself and you were asking broad questions and then Kaepernick shot back at you that if you wanted specific answers you should ask specific questions? Surely you remember that, yes? That was funny to watch on TV. I was surprised you didn’t shoot back some snarky comment to Kaepernick like the one you did above to RZ, your reader. Maybe you think that if Kaepernick gives you a “warped response” you can’t shoot back at him, but if one of your readers gives you a “warped response” you can do whatever you please? That seems pretty rude. Maybe Kaepernick is feeling a little high and mighty in his new shoes, and maybe the exalted Cohn can understand that. I think for all your outward expressions on manners, you ought to send out an apology to RZ.

    December 26th, 2012 8:29 am

  25. Steve the cat rescuer

    Typo: meant first round of the playoffs, not season. And to further clarify, I’m not rooting against the team per se; I’m just finding it more and more difficult to root for Harbaugh with each passing week. Contrary to a popular sports mantra, winning doesn’t cure everything in my world.

    December 26th, 2012 8:33 am

  26. Lea

    I really like Colin what an awesome talent, but the way he was brought into the job is just, well how should I say? It was just bad karma.

    December 26th, 2012 8:36 am

  27. CohnZohn

    Jumbo Shrimp, Kaepernick didn’t answer anyone’s questions. It wasn’t just mine. Gee, you seem awfully worked up.

    December 26th, 2012 8:56 am

  28. Joe

    Relax, everyone!

    You cannot regulate bad personality!

    If you’re French and greet people with pecks to the cheeks, but are meeting some old traditional Japanese who prefer bowing, do you spend all your waking hours complaining about these Japanese having no class and don’t know how to act towards you? Or making fun of their chopsticks and eating uncooked fish?

    Why should they change to accommodate you? You’re not their boss. Most of all: the world doesn’t revolve around you!

    As a fan, as long as they perform on the field and entertain, I’m ecstatic! Do you want Singletary back and have great quotes and lots to say “on paper”, and we’re all delirious, “on paper”?

    Athletes are not our role models–despite we keep forcing them to be. They’re just workers with a much higher pay (sacrificing their body parts). Stop banging your heads against the wall if they don’t behave like you and me. Being rude is no crime.

    Spend more time analyzing how we can do better on the field! Else, you’re behaving like the types worrying about what Kardashians eat for breakfast this morning!

    December 26th, 2012 9:07 am

  29. Brodie2Washington

    “Never pass up an opportunity to keep your mouth shut.”

    I think Kaepernick was just doing the math. The less he says, the lower the chances of a gaffe. It seems like the 49ers (and to a lesser degree other teams) encourage new players to give generic, methodical answers during interviews.

    December 26th, 2012 9:09 am

  30. CohnZohn

    Joe, Very predictable response. So I’m serving notice. If readers have something to add on this subject, I post you. If you merely say — yet again — you only care what happens on the field, I trash you. I understand it matters mostly what happens on the field. I am addressing another subject. Got that?

    December 26th, 2012 9:21 am

  31. Steve the cat rescuer

    I was a magazine journalist for many years before embarking on my second career as a Librarian. Players need to remember that the media is the only conduit between the team and the fans. Some fans should keep that in mind as well. Yes, some members of the media deliberately try to stir up controversy for their own glorification; I don’t believe Lowell is one of them. I grew up in Chicago and Lowell in New York. Rightly or wrongly the media in those two cities would be eviscerating Harbaugh for his attitude and the timing of his QB decision and Kaepernick for his performance.

    December 26th, 2012 9:38 am

  32. Jumbo Shrimp

    Sorry. I don’t feel worked up, but maybe it’s the Xmas hangover, or maybe it’s the assignment I was just emailed by my boss for 12/28 even though I was supposed to have this week off. Grrrr.

    I just checked out Tim Kawakami blog and he has the whole transcript up. It looks like Kaepernick answered everyone’s questions, even if the answers were rude and short. The only time he didn’t answer and was rude was to you. Are they mad at you?

    December 26th, 2012 9:40 am

  33. Joe


    The SUBJECT: Cohn wishes Colin to be a fine young man and offers better thoughtful longer responses and treat media with respect.

    My comment as a reader: Colin can behave however he wants (as long as he doesn’t break the law, like having tattoos). He doesn’t need to behave to meet our expectation.

    I apologize for not commenting on Cohn’s subject on how Colin should behave…

    December 26th, 2012 9:44 am

  34. CohnZohn

    Jumbo, I didn’t consider Kaepernick rude to me. His tone never changed. It’s a monotone, somewhat robotic. I compare that to Seattle’s Russell Wilson, so full of life after the game. Kaepernick is somewhat robotic after wins. As far as whether the people at the Niners like or don’t like me, you’ll have to ask them. I hope you can cheer up.

    December 26th, 2012 9:45 am

  35. Jumbo Shrimp

    I don’t know how much truth there is to it but a friend of mine when all the “Kaepernick starting” business first went down said that he hoped Kaepernick could handle it cause he has heard rumors of how cocky Kaepernick is. I was surprised to hear that because last year after the draft he just seemed so nice, but what young man might not feel on top of the world. I think my friend might have been right. Not that I mind, of course, because Joe was the cockiest of them all, and for good reason. As for Russell Wilson, that guy’s going to set all kinds of team records for Seahawks quarterback play. I’ve always thought Kaepernick would become the best QB drafted in 2010-2012, but it might be Wilson. Boo hoo.

    December 26th, 2012 9:56 am

  36. Dennis

    Lowell, I wish you and your family a very Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year. I thank you for allowing me to comment all these years.

    There is no point in me adding to this discussion here. It has all been said numerous times. I think you get out point. Nothing we say, nothing you say, is going to change anyone’s opinion on what the 49ers say and how they say it.

    December 26th, 2012 11:36 am

  37. Streetglide

    Lowell-san, after reading your hatchet jobs on the team, the coaches and the players recently, why should they talk to you? You go for the sack shot too many times which is so unnecessary for someone with your talent. Leave the yenta stuff to others and try to elevate your own game. When you are on, no one can touch your prose, it’s really good. When you mail it in – like this – it’s not so much.

    I’m actually sick of the Niners at this point, I’m looking at other, more important issues in my life. It’s only a game, and it isn’t the game I grew up with. Now-a-days, it’s too violent, too angry, too dirty for me to be emotionally involved with.

    But in the mean time — and I’m saying this with kindness in my heart — what goes around, comes around in both directions. You regularly go low in your column and I’m sure Smith had some long talks about that with Colin; so don’t be surprised if you don’t get much love.

    December 26th, 2012 12:42 pm

  38. Dave T

    There are numerous examples of QB’s and other impact players both past and present, who were polite and gracious to the media and sometimes even entertaining, who gave nothing away regarding game plan, etc. Some examples, and in no particular order: Tom Brady, Steve Young, Aaron Rodgers, Kerry Collins (Talk about an up and down career!), The Mannings, Drew Brees, Dan Marino, Troy Polamalu, Rod Woodson, Hines Ward, Tim Brown, Jerry Rice, Joe Montana, Joe Green, Joe Theisman, Tikki Barber, Barry Sanders, Ozzie Newsome, Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Michael Strahan. That is a short list, of amazing players, past and present, who are honest, straight forward, some soft spoken and others, well, not so much. But each understands the need to communicate with their teammates and fans. Yes, in the end, it is on the field that counts, but how you relate to the fans, the people who really pay the bills, that is what sets you apart. And interestingly enough, all these players are highly marketable, go figure….

    December 26th, 2012 2:05 pm

  39. MJ

    Not sure if it was mentioned but Kap isnt so young a player. He’s 25. In comparison, Alex is only 28. Kinda throws you and makes you realize how long Smith was here for and makes you wonder what type of success he would have had, had he been able to sit til he was 25 and been inserted into a SB level team. Things that make you go hmmm.

    December 26th, 2012 2:16 pm

  40. Loneraider78


    Lowell, Here is Steve Young recently talking about Jerry Rice:
    “Steve Young was the San Francisco 49ers’ primary quarterback in 1995 when
    Jerry Rice set the NFL record for receiving yards in a season.
    As Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson approaches the record
    – he is 182 yards away from breaking it —
    Young said the two receivers have an important similarity.

    Like Rice, Young said in the video, Johnson “does things despite the whole building,
    80,000 people and the defense and the coaches, knowing I have to get it to Calvin Johnson,
    and he still does it. That’s exactly like Jerry Rice. Everyone knew Jerry Rice was going to get the
    football, and he still got it. There are very few people that can handle that kind of attention,
    that kind of focus from defenses, particularly week after week after week, and still find ways to get the football.””

    Young said nothing specific about Rice’s abilities.
    Would you apply the same criticism to Young’s statement that you are applying to Kaepernick’s?
    What is the difference in the content in these 2 answers?



    Young said everyone in the building knew what was coming, and yet was powerless to stop it.

    That speaks volumes about Rice’s ability. Forget the fact that he really didn’t need to say anything at all. Rice’s play was already legendary. What more did he need to say?

    Kaepernick said “he catches the ball” and that’s it.

    If ever asked about what CK does well, Crabtree should jokingly say “he throws the ball, and runs sometimes” and that’s it.

    They may have a mutiny over there soon.

    December 26th, 2012 4:58 pm

  41. Tim F.

    Also one more thing to add to my original post i forgot to say. If you notice, Colin Kaepernick was very nice and friendly to the media in his first interviews this season. But then we saw a change right around the time the media started to bash his tattoos, and they told his whole life story about his biological mother for all to see on the internet, something im sure he did not want. So i think it is quite natural for him to bottle up to the media and come off sometimes rude to them after the awful and private stuff they wrote about him. Again, the media is not anyones friend. They can sing home all they want- that their purpose is to relay info from players to fans but really they just want a story to tell, even if that means tearing down a player or anyone else for that matter. To be honest, i dont know how they keep their cool around any form of the media. It has to be annoying.

    December 26th, 2012 10:43 pm

  42. Jonny Thunder

    Once again I agree with Lowell. The attitude of Kap AND Harbaugh is selfish and rude and quite honestly counter productive. The media is the fans lifeline of knowledge of the team. Nobody is asking for insider tidbits. Basically they refuse to carry on a reasonable conversation with the media / fans.

    Once again, it’s the personality rearing its ugly head. This is not a trivial matter. We’re are seeing the polluted core in the head coach. He’s got issues.

    December 27th, 2012 11:03 am

  43. Bayareafanatic

    Kaep is guarded for sure. Ultimately the sad part is his fans don’t get to know who he is. But before we write him off as rude, maybe the responsibility is on the reporter to ask smarter more detailed questions that don’t give CK the ability to give a short answer…..

    December 28th, 2012 9:46 am

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