San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch said in an interview on KNBR (h/t Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk) that free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick should make it clear he's committed to being an NFL signal-caller.
"I think the way you could best help yourself is not to have someone talk for you, not have statements, but go sit down and give an interview and let people know where you stand because he makes a compelling case as to how bad he wants to be in the league when you talk to him."
Lynch reaffirmed that Kaepernick is dedicated to his craft:
"I would tell you with my conversations with Colin, he is fully committed to wanting to be in this league. I gave that opinion to Colin myself: 'I think you are having a little bit of an image crisis in terms of, not so much what you did last year, but people are wondering: Is this most important to you?' At a position where the guys who succeed at the position are the guys who live it, breathe it, the CEOs at that position. And I think there is a perception that football is not at the top of the list."
Patrick Claybon of the NFL Network doesn't see the logic in Lynch's comments, however:
Kaepernick's work ethic has become a storyline this offseason, and the quarterback remains unsigned. Albert Breer of NFL.com reported one account from a 49ers employee:
"As one Niners employee explained it, Kaepernick wouldn't stay late at the facility during the season like many quarterbacks routinely do, saying he'd take work home. And there were examples where coaches saw what looked like shoddy prep surfacing in inexplicable mental errors in games. Another staffer, asked if he thinks Kaepernick wants to keep playing, answered, 'I do think he wants to play—to stay relevant.'"
But Kaepernick's former head coach, Chip Kelly, denied the notion that he was ever a distraction in the locker room and refuted the idea that Kaepernick wasn't a hard worker.
"Kap was awesome," Kelly said on the Know Them From Adam podcast with Adam Schefter, per Jon Schlosser of All22.com. "You know, at the beginning of the year, he made a stance in terms of what he believed was right. We recognized and supported his ability to do that. But he never brought that into the locker room."
He added: "He came to work every day, extremely diligent in terms of his preparation, in terms of his work ethic. I really enjoyed Kap. I've talked to Kap three or four times since. I think he's a really good player and a really good person, and I really enjoyed coaching him."
Kelly's comments support the theory that Kaepernick hasn't gone unsigned by NFL teams because of his work ethic or his play but rather because he made a political statement by kneeling during the national anthem before games last season to protest police brutality.
Retired NFL player Stephen White and B/R's Mike Freeman subscribe to that line of thinking:
Kaepernick, 29, played 12 games last season, throwing for 2,241 yards, 16 touchdowns and four interceptions.