Here is a link to my Thursday column about Colin Kaepernick. The full text runs below:
SANTA CLARA — Colin Kaepernick. He’s the subject of the day for the Niners, certainly the subject of the week, maybe the subject of the season.
So, here’s what happened last Saturday — to me. I got a phone call from someone. Leave it at that. This someone said a player on the 49ers told a second person about Kaepernick’s standing (falling?) in the locker room and on the team. The second someone told my someone about it.
What I was getting was at the third remove, certainly not something to go with. And I never would have written about it — never would be writing about it — except for certain later developments I’ll get to in a moment. Please take what I’m writing with skepticism and understand this is an interpretation of events, not presented as gospel. OK?
My someone told me this. According to the 49ers player, whom my someone had not spoken to, Kaepernick stays by himself in the locker room and in the lunchroom. He has hardly any friends on the team and likes it that way. The player said he never had seen anything like this before from a quarterback. The offensive linemen are not close with Kaepernick and don’t like blocking for him.
I thought this information was a big deal, and planned to pursue it — to see if it would hold up. I never got a chance to investigate because the most unusual thing happened.
The very next day, Fox Sports NFL insider Jay Glazer broke this news. I quote: “His confidence is completely shot. It’s not that (the players) don’t like him. But he’s just alone, on an island in that locker room. There’s not a lot of people he connects with. Confidence-wise, he’s just buried right now.”
This was a bombshell. Glazer is a reputable reporter and I can’t imagine him making up this stuff. Plus what he said was close to what I heard. I don’t know Glazer, but we had received the same information.
I also don’t know Glazer’s source. I do not believe it was management. I believe it was a player or players. Management will begin to leak stuff about Kaepernick. Management will distance itself from Jim Harbaugh’s quarterback, but that will come later. What appears to be happening now is more damning.
This is what I believe. Kaepernick used to be a good guy. Came onto the team eager and friendly. Then Harbaugh anointed him prematurely, and Kaepernick felt like the chosen one before he ever deserved anointing. His head grew to the size of a melon. He felt above his teammates. Joe Montana never felt above his teammates. Was one of the guys.
Now the team is 2-5. When the quarterback is doing well, everyone loves him even if he’s a nut, a recluse, or someone who whittles wood bark during team meetings. When things are not good — like now — players focus on the things they don’t like about the quarterback. And it gets out. And it’s getting out now.
Kaepernick held his weekly news conference Wednesday. Well attended. Big news, Glazer’s report. Kaepernick climbed onto the stage. Looked edgy. Someone asked if he’s hurt by the recent reports.
“What reports would you be referring to?” Kaepernick said.
Let’s stop right here, you and I. Kaepernick knew very well what reports the questioner referred to. I’ll bet the public relations department prepped Kaepernick for the interview, told him what questions were likely to come and how to respond. Told him if someone asked about the reports, pretend he’d spent the past few days in Antarctica.
The reporter followed up as he’s supposed to do. He asked about Kaepernick being on an island. Asked if the reports bother Kaepernick.
“No, reports don’t bother me,” Kaepernick recited. It sounded to me like reciting. Did he have cue cards in the back of the room? “My relationship with my teammates is great,” he said. “That’s all I’m worried about. What the perspective is outside the locker room really has nothing to do with me or this team.”
Except the reports probably came from inside the locker room.
Someone else said, “Asked about possibly being a scapegoat (for the losing), you said, ‘I hope not.’ I’ll attribute that as you’re not sure. Is that an accurate portrayal?”
“No,” Kaepernick said, “I would say that I don’t think about that. What I think about is what I can do to help this team win and what I can do to help make this team better.”
Then Grant Cohn, who writes the Inside the 49ers blog for The Press Democrat, asked, “How important is it to you to be liked by your teammates?”
Brief pause here for journalism lesson. The idea is NOT to ask a question the subject is prepared for. Surprise him. Ask something he doesn’t expect, something the PR department didn’t coach him for. Make him answer honestly.
Now Kaepernick was in uncharted territory, had to speak for himself on the spur of the moment.
“It’s more important for me to be respected by my teammates,” Kaepernick said, deftly stepping into quicksand.
Oh, he wants to be respected by teammates more than he wants to be liked. Well, good luck with respect. In the 49ers’ last game, Kaepernick completed just 13 passes. He threw for 124 yards. Good quarterbacks do that in a quarter. His passer rating was 68.8.
For this he wants respect? Look at the body language of receivers Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith. They don’t portray respect. They portray disgust. I bet they don’t want a weightlifter posing as a quarterback. They want someone who can throw them the ball.
So, let’s be clear. It’s doubtful the Niners respect Kaepernick. How could they? And, according to the stuff that’s been coming out — and will come out more — they don’t like him, either.
To which any right-thinking person would say, “Way to go, Colin.”
For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at firstname.lastname@example.org.