Good morning, Broncos Country!
What a freaking week! In just four days, we have celebrated the retirement of our legendary future Hall-of-Fame QB while the guy we thought would follow in his footsteps instead put on his cowboy boots and walked to Texas for a cool $72 million after going 5-2 in a four-year NFL career.
And that scenario has left John Elway and the Broncos to pursue Colin Kaepernick as a potential signal caller for the Broncos next year. If you like to read between the lines among all the rumors swirling around about how close this deal could be (and I usually don't, but this trade is seeming quite likely), then it's worth considering the pros and cons of this guy becoming a Bronco.
Since I'm a positive thinker, we'll make it a "cons and pros" list and end on the good stuff about the former Nevada quarterback and Wisconsin native who enjoyed great success his second and third years in the league, taking the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2012 and the NFC Championship in 2013.
Drop in performance last two years
After some early success in the NFL, Kaepernick has failed to produce the last two seasons, even being benched midway through the 2015 season for Blaine Gabbert, a former Jaguars quarterback with an 8-27 career record (yikes! That means things could not have gone well).
Yet there was a lot going on at the 49ers last year that could help explain some of Kap's in-season demise - namely a new head coach and offensive coordinator, both of whom were fired at the end of the Niners' train wreck of a season.
The offensive line for the Niners last year was quite possibly worse than the Broncos' own OL project as Kap was sacked 28 times in just eight games as well as 53 times during the 2014 season. For a mobile QB, that is just horrendous.
Kap's strength is his legs, so having to be the most accurate pocket passer has not been his thing. While he tried to improve that last year in Chryst's offense, it was clear the offensive coordinator was not using the QB to his strengths with designed run plays and the play-action - and that was partly to blame for Kap's low production.
Locker room issues
There were several stories late last fall about Kaepernick's locker room issues - from being a loner, to wearing headphones all the time that distance himself from the team, to dating the ex-girlfriend of teammate Aldon Smith.
Although there were denials as well, it has been clear this offseason that Kaepernick is not the type of guy to keep his complaints of his situation a private matter with the coaches. While former 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh praised Kap for his hard work and intelligence on the field, former teammate Michael Crabtree insinuated that Kap needed "to get in his playbook" more so he would "know what he's doing out there."
If Colin Kaepernick’s contract is kept intact when traded, it’ll be a 5 yr/$89.2M deal w/ a $13.425M cap in 2016. pic.twitter.com/dU6ltVxeSX— Spotrac (@spotrac) March 10, 2016
While Kap's loner nature may not impress his teammates looking for a more vocal and inclusive leader, this quality does allow Kaepernick to focus and concentrate on his workouts - something he is diligent about doing.
Cam Inman, 49ers beat reporter for the San Jose Mercury News, believes Kap is a good guy, just not an outgoing guy. "He puts his headphones on, his head down and gets to work because he wants to get better," Inman says.
But this could be sending the wrong message inside the locker room, Inman believes, and he recommends Kap take his linemen out for dinner every now and then to promote some bonding and loyalty among players.
Athletic, mobile QB
Harbaugh told The Rich Eisen Show on Wednesday that Kaepernick had a competitive drive second to none as well as incredible athleticism.
"There is a will to succeed and a will to win. Nobody's got it like Colin Kaepernick does. I mean, to an ultimate level," Harbaugh said, adding that Kap's athleticism "doesn't get any better."
"And he's so intelligent, he's so smart, he's so aware of everybody around him," Harbaugh added.
As Gary Kubiak said last fall, Kaepernick's got a big-time arm.
"He can make every throw, and then when you cover people up he goes and makes plays," Kubiak said. "He's obviously a special player, and to have a good team in this league, you better have a special player at that position."
More importantly, however, is that Kap's style with his big arm and mobile legs are that he is likely a good fit for Kubiak's offense, playing to his strengths with a lot of play action. Now if the Broncos could just find a complementary running back...
CJ Anderson's offer sheet with Miami: 4 years, $18 million. Denver has five days to match or lose Anderson.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 10, 2016
Where do we go from here?
First, no matter who Elway and Kubiak bring in or draft to be the Broncos quarterback next season, I will support him.
But I'm not completely sold on Kaepernick yet. Sure I know he has the talent, and when healthy, I realize it will be fun to watch a mobile QB run the "Kubiak offense" as it was intended to be run. Yet the locker room issues are a concern, and it goes beyond headphones and distancing himself.
It should not be underestimated what having strong team leaders can do for a locker room. Look how it helped the Broncos this past season. Time and time again, players would note Manning's strong leadership style and how much they learned from him, how much they enjoyed his sense of humor and practical jokes. And when Osweiler took over, they all pointed out what a good leader he was and how he commanded the huddle.
Kap shouldn't try to be somebody he is not, but if he wants to command attention on the field and demand respect from his offense, then he needs to learn how to be part of the team off the field too for really good chemistry. Maybe the Broncos are the best team to help him do that.
He needs to develop relationships with all the guys on the team but especially with his linemen and his offense. He needs to be the example - not just in working hard - but in interacting, being vocal about positive change that needs to happen (either individually or for the group).
So far, everyone talking about Kap admits he is not a "one of the guys" type of teammate, nor is he an obvious leader.
I won't lie, this side of Kap concerns me for the Broncos. I've always kind of liked Kaepernick - ever since Super Bowl XLVII when they played the Ravens. I clearly couldn't cheer for the Ravens, that year after they snatched a victory from us to get there, so I naturally gravitated to any good reason to feel invested in the team I was cheering for. The stories of Kaepernick's love for his adoptive parents are heart-warming and made him easy to like. Then there was his electric play on the field. It was easy to like him.
But his issues relating to his team the last year are concerning. But the one thing that has me feeling OK about this likely trade is that the Broncos' locker room is strong and has several potential mentors to bring Kaepernick up to speed on how a starting quarterback leads his team.
Though his personality doesn't seem to lend itself to the same of leadership we have seen in Peyton Manning or even Brock Osweiler, with the right supportive environment, hopefully Kaepernick can learn to be the guy on and off the field the Broncos would need him to be to have another successful run.
And like Pete Baron told me, "If Elway isn't worried, you shouldn't be."
@MaseDenver please explain how Kap is better than Tebow? Keep hearing Kap is inaccurate, foot wrk probs, sounds like Tebow flaws.— Max (@maximumdixierbl) March 11, 2016
There's a big difference between a QB that completes 60 percent of his passes and one that completes 48 percent. https://t.co/y5ZdsJkXOn— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) March 11, 2016
Horse Tracks - Colin Kaepernick
Best fit for Kaepernick - Browns, Jets or Broncos? | Pro Football Focus
Trade rumors are heating up for San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, a sign of desperation around the league, as well as intrigue in a reclamation project. Make no mistake, Kaepernick has regressed every year since breaking out with an impressive debut in 2012, so any team that takes him will be doing so with that risk/reward in mind.
Michael Crabtree Summed up Colin Kaepernick’s Demise as Well as Anyone | The Big Lead
Michael Crabtree was asked about his former QB in San Francisco, Colin Kaepernick.
Hochman: Colin Kaepernick's mother awaits seeing son - The Denver Post (2014)
The mother of 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick lives in the Denver area, but Kaepernick doesn't speak to her.
Harbaugh on Kaepernick's ability to rebound: 'He's got the grit, the mental toughness, the confidence' - 49ers Hot Read
If the 49ers wanted to inflate Colin Kaepernick’s stock for a potential trade, then former coach Jim Harbaugh proved up to that task Wednesday.
Why is Colin Kaepernick in demand? Look to QB market
Quarterback had odd downfall in San Francisco but makes sense as option for others.
Is trading Colin Kaepernick the right decision? - Niners Nation
There might be two answers to this question, but only one makes sense at this point.
Horse Tracks - Broncos
Donald Stephenson: "Excited" to join the Broncos, "not worried" about QB situation
"I'm pretty sure they're going to find somebody that can play," the newest Bronco said after signing a three-year deal.
Analysis: How Donald Stephenson fits
He bolsters the Broncos at tackle, and the resulting domino effect gives options all along a line that looks more stable now than it did before Wednesday.
Bye-Bye Brocketman: Analysis and reaction to Brock Osweiler leaving Broncos in free agency | Broncos Wire
Gone are the days of cleverly inserting Brock Osweiler's name into phrases, movie lines, and song titles. At least for Denver Broncos fans. That game belongs to the residents of Houston, Texas now. And to be honest, that is completely fine with me.
John Elway is starting from scratch at quarterback | Mile High Sports
John Elway is starting from scratch after losing the top two quarterbacks on a Super Bowl-winning team in the span of 72 hours.
Osweiler channels Peyton Manning at introductory press conference | ProFootballTalk
It wasn't as smooth or as polished, and it didn't flow with the same Elvis-style drawl. But quarterback Brock Osweiler's first press conference with the Texans seemed a lot like quarterback Peyton Manning's last press conference with the Broncos.
Houston gave Brock Osweiler $72 million and no one has any idea if he’s good | For The Win
Osweiler was fine in seven NFL games playing with a Super Bowl roster. How do we know he's good?
Better off without Brock Osweiler: Broncos should pursue Colin Kaepernick | Broncos Wire
In seven games last season, Brock Osweiler was a great game manager but nothing more, and the Broncos were smart to let him go. Admittedly I bought into Brock-mania last season.
Former Broncos Louis Vasquez set to visit Titans, Vernon Davis to visit Redskins - The Denver Post
Former Broncos guard Louis Vasquez is starting his tour in search of a new team. He's scheduled for a visit with the Tennessee Titans Friday, per an NFL source.
Horse Tracks - NFL
Seven riskiest signings of NFL free agency so far - NFL.com
Houston Texans general manager Rick Smith put his future on the line with Brock Osweiler's contract. Who are some of the other riskiest pickups in free agency?
Raiders aim at top of AFC West with big splash in free agency - NFL.com
Oakland made a big splash at the outset of free agency. Jeffri Chadiha explains how newcomers Kelechi Osemele, Bruce Irvin and Sean Smith make the Raiders legitimate AFC West contenders.
DeMarco Murray jokes he 'took a year off' in Philly - NFL.com
DeMarco Murray rushed just 193 times last season with the Philadelphia Eagles. After his trade to the Tennessee Titans, the running back quipped that he's fresh because he "took a year off."
Jets Sign RB Matt Forte
Since 2008, Forte’s 12,718 Yards from Scrimmage lead the NFL.