Here is a link to my Tuesday Kaepernick column. The full text runs below:
SANTA CLARA — Benched.
The guy who holds the clipboard.
Colin Kaepernick, the once and no-more starting quarterback of the 49ers got shoved to the side, according to reports. He now is benched, irrelevant, history. Almost certainly gone by the end of this season. The understudy to Blaine Gabbert.
That’s right, to Blaine Freaking Gabbert.
It all started at coach Jim Tomsula’s Monday morning news conference. Tomsula, a big Kaepernick booster in the past, refused to name Kaepernick starting quarterback for next Sunday’s home game against Atlanta. Tomsula was coy, mute on the subject. His silence sounded every alarm bell in the building and in Kaepernick’s head.
This is what Tomsula said in a Q&A with reporters:
Q: Have you guys met and is there a decision on who your starting quarterback will be Sunday?
A: Yeah, we’re evaluating everything right now. So, we’re in the middle of it right now. I don’t have any comments on any position on our field right now. We are evaluating everybody.
Q: In the past, you’ve stated quite clearly, “QB Colin Kaepernick is our quarterback.”
A: Yeah, we’re evaluating everyone.
Q: Does that mean he might not start the next game?
A: I’m not going to have any further comment. I’m just telling you that we are evaluating everyone.
Q: When do you have to make that decision? Obviously, you’re putting in the game plan. I would suspect the game plan would be a lot different for one quarterback than the other. When does that have to be made?
A: Again, we’ll make those decisions when we’ve got those things done in every position. Every position.
Q: How do you think Colin played (Sunday)?
A: Colin didn’t play good enough. Neither did the team. The San Francisco 49ers didn’t play good enough.
Translation: Tomsula needed to evaluate Kaepernick, and when he evaluated the former starting quarterback, Kaepernick flunked. At one time — hard to believe — people perceived Kaepernick as the heir apparent to Joe Montana and Steve Young in the glorious tradition of 49ers quarterbacks. Now, he’ll become a footnote. And the footnote will read: Not good enough. Never was.
Things weren’t always this way between Tomsula and Kaepernick. Look at how fervently Tomsula defended Kaepernick not long ago.
On Oct. 7, a reporter asked, “Why not say there is a competition (at quarterback)? Why not say, ‘Everybody, this position, there’s a competition for it?’ ”
Tomsula: “Because I think that starts a whole lot of things that I just don’t believe. I think that runs wild. There’s not a competition. It’s the most important position in all of sports. I got it. Now, other positions sub through more than that position, but I want a confident man, just full bore ahead at that position. I believe it’s critical. And I believe in the quarterback. I believe in him. I believe in Colin Kaepernick.”
Just last week, a reporter asked Tomsula this: “Are you set at quarterback going into this next game against the Rams?”
Tomsula: “Yes. Colin is our quarterback. There’s no controversies.”
That changed fast enough after Kaepernick flopped against the Rams last Sunday, 59.2 passer rating, only162 yards in the air. It was another flop in a long line of flops. Kaepernick deserves every particle of derision he’s facing. He deserves to be benched for the nonentity Gabbert. Kaepernick has become a nonentity in his own right. Worked hard for it.
Get a load of his “accomplishments.” The past two games, he did not throw a touchdown pass. In five of the 49ers eight games, he’s thrown no touchdown passes. Through eight games — half the season — he’s managed to throw for six touchdowns. If he still were the starter, he’d be on pace to throw 12 TD passes the entire season. Some pace.
Jeff Garcia, who never enjoyed the hoopla Kaepernick used to enjoy and flaunt with those headphones and sideways cap and unearned arrogance, threw for 31 TDs for the Niners in 2000 and 32 in 2001. Who would you rather have starting for the 49ers, Garcia or Kaepernick?
Now, we come to the most interesting question. Why did Tomsula dump Kaepernick now?
Here’s my theory. Tomsula is afraid for his job. Scared stiff. One more stinkeroo game, one more blowout loss and he could be gone during the bye week which starts after the Atlanta game. Teams sometimes fire bad coaches during the bye week. If the Niners lose to the Falcons, their record will be 2-7 and Jed York and Trent Baalke will have seen enough — possibly — and will drop the hammer on Tomsula. Not that those two are blameless.
So, Tomsula is switching quarterbacks to save his skin. If Gabbert gives the 49ers a spark, if Gabbert beats Atlanta — small chance of that — Tomsula can make a case for keeping his own job. At least for a while. He can say he made a change and acted decisively and the team plays harder for Gabbert than Kaepernick. The offensive line blocks better for Gabbert. And Gabbert is a more precise passer. If he, indeed, is.
Of course, if Gabbert were a decent backup, he would have started already. His won-loss record in the NFL is 5-22. Hardly a winner. Why do the Niners have such a poor backup quarterback? Ask Baalke.
All of which means befuddled Tomsula, virtually out of options, is linking his job future to Gabbert. Some linkage. Tomsula is asking — begging — management to give him a chance with a new QB. He made the move on Kaepernick before Jed and Baalke could make the move on him.
Small consolation. Small hope. Kaepernick gone now. Tomsula gone soon after.
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.