Colin Kaepernick reportedly doesn't want to play for the San Francisco 49ers anymore, but as the signal-caller's under contract until 2020, he'll have to make do as long as new head coach Chip Kelly keeps him around.
One person who knows about succeeding in San Francisco is Hall of Fame quarterback and ESPN analyst Steve Young. The former 49ers Super Bowl champion had some bold words on the current state of the franchise and some advice for Kaepernick regarding the immediate future between him and Kelly, per Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com:
I would go to Chip Kelly and tell him, 'Whatever happened last year, whatever you saw, whatever you thought was a weakness in my game, whatever the holes, the cracks in the wall, I'm going to fix. I made some mistakes. I lost the team a little bit. I lost the locker room a little bit. I didn't respond the way I should have to adversity. But I've learned. I've figured it out. And I've got the talent; I've got the ability to make your offense hum.
Because Chip would respond to that, right? Because that's what Chip's worried about. He's not worried about Colin having ability; he's worried about Colin having all the software to go do it ... I would go sell it.
If I'm the quarterback and I'm on the team when Chip Kelly shows up, I'm not going [anywhere]. Take me. Teach me. Show me how to score some points.
The three seasons since that Super Bowl appearance have resulted in a loss in the NFC Championship Game to the Seattle Seahawks, former head coach Jim Harbaugh's departure and Kaepernick's benching in favor of Blaine Gabbert.
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The 49ers averaged a league-worst 14.9 points per game in 2015, and Kaepernick went 2-6 in eight starts and threw for fewer than 200 yards in five of those. Young touched on how Kaepernick's role has evolved over the years and how the resources around him have changed:
In 2012, 2013, he had to carry so little water. I mean that defense carried a ton of water. That offensive line was top 5. All the weapons around him, Frank [Gore at running back], solid locker room that handled all the problems. Any issue that came up in the locker room? Handled. Boom. Justin Smith? Done. There was no issue that wasn't handled. Everything was set. He was able to just fill in whatever he had, which was a lot.
All of a sudden that all falls away? And now you've got to carry all the water. It's a whole other job ... you can see that it ran him over ... that needed to be spread out and it all came in one deluge.
The lack of offense in San Francisco was reason enough for the 49ers to hire Kelly, who coached the 13th-best scoring offense in 2015 before the Philadelphia Eagles fired him prior to the team's final game of the season.
Kelly's spread-based, option-style offense seems tailor-made for Kaepernick's game, so it may be wise for the 28-year-old signal-caller to heed Young's advice.
On whether the two parties can actually work together, Young told Gutierrez, "I get a funny feeling that neither of them want it to work out. I don't know."
Considering Young's thoughts, Kaepernick may be leaving the Bay Area a lot sooner than 2020.