Kaepernick returns, continues to fight on and off the field

Kaepernick returns, continues to fight on and off the field

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – Whether it was on or off the field, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick experienced some good with a lot of bad on Sunday in his return to the starting lineup.

The 49ers and Kaepernick had some success in the first half before crumbling as the game wore on in a 45-16 loss to the Buffalo Bills. It was the 49ers’ fifth consecutive loss.

“I thought it was OK,” 49ers coach Chip Kelly said in evaluating Kaepernick’s performance. “There were some positives that you can really build on that I thought he did.

“We got to be better overall on offense. It’s not just the quarterback. It’s everybody on the offensive side of the ball. I thought he really made some plays with his legs today.”

Kaepernick’s stat line was pedestrian. He completed just 13 of 29 pass attempts for 187 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions. He was sacked three times. He also gained a team-high 66 yards rushing on eight attempts.

Kaepernick appears certain to remain as the starting quarterback for at least a while after Blaine Gabbert started five games. But when asked if Kaepernick would start next week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Kelly answered, “Yeah, we’ll see.”

Just like Gabbert who regularly misfired on big-play chances to open receivers, Kaepernick missed an opportunity for a big play on the 49ers’ first possession when he overshot wide receiver Torrey Smith on a deep post pattern. Instead of a touchdown, the 49ers were forced to punt.

“That would’ve been big to come out that way and give us that lead and being able to play from there,” Kaepernick said. “(It) might’ve been a little juice being out there and having that opportunity. Saw the coverage and knew we had it and let it fly a little too long.”

Kaepernick later found Smith on a 53-yard touchdown pass – a throw that appeared to get held up in the 22-mph wind. The underthrown pass forced Smith to stop to make the catch. Smith had to restart his engine and cut across the field to make it into the end zone.

Kaepernick generated a lot of pregame attention for his demonstration to bring attention to racial inequalities in the United States. Kaepernick, Eric Reid and Eli Harold took a knee on the sideline during the playing of the national anthem to continue to the protest.

“I had some Bills fans come up before the game and say they support me,” said Kaepernick, who wore a shirt that paid homage to the late Muhammad Ali. “I think it all depends on who the person is. At the end of the day, I’m going to continue to fight what I’m fighting for.”

Shortly before the national anthem, a loud chant of “U.S.A.! U.S.A.!” broke out in the stadium – seemingly directed at Kaepernick, whom some believe is taking an anti-American position. But Kaepernick said he believes there is nothing more American than his peaceful protest designed to help those who are less fortunate than him.

“I don’t understand what’s un-American about fighting for liberty and justice for everybody, for the equality that this country says it stands for,” Kaepernick said. “To me, I see it as very patriotic and American to uphold the United States to the standards it says it lives by. It’s something that needs to be addressed.”

The anti-Kaepernick expressions continued while he was on the sideline, his teammate Quinton Patton said.

“It’s a lot of negative and a lot of harsh stuff coming toward Kap on the sideline and everybody doesn’t know that,” Patton said. “He’s getting all the heat from everybody and anybody. You got to be a strong individual.

“I’ve heard A to Z out there.”

Although no members of the Buffalo Bills have joined in the protest during the national anthem, Bills wide receiver Marquise Goodwin approached Kaepernick after the game to request a jersey swap. Goodwin represented the U.S. as a long-jumper in the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Ex-49er Daniel Kilgore describes 'crazy,' 'frustrating,' 'heart-breaking' week


Ex-49er Daniel Kilgore describes 'crazy,' 'frustrating,' 'heart-breaking' week

Daniel Kilgore’s mind was at ease on Feb. 14 after signing a three-year contract extension to remain with the 49ers – the team that selected him in the fifth round of the 2011 draft.

But all that changed on the first day of the open negotiating period when he learned the 49ers reached an agreement with New York Giants free-agent Weston Richburg on a five-year contract. The same firm, Rep1, represents Kilgore and Richburg.

“Originally, I knew Weston was on the Niners’ board for left guard,” Kilgore said on the 49ers Insider Podcast. “When I knew that he was going to sign with the 49ers, I was thinking, ‘Hey, we just got a new left guard.’ I hate it for Laken (Tomlinson).

“But, then, you kind of find out he was coming for center. That’s when I was thrown for a loop.”

Kilgore described the days that followed as “crazy,” “frustrating” and “heart-breaking.”

One day after the 49ers officially signed Richburg to a five-year, $47.5 million contract, Kilgore was traded to the Miami Dolphins. The 49ers got little in return for delivering Kilgore to what appears to be a good situation. The team’s swapped draft spots in the seventh round, with the 49ers now choosing at No. 223 overall, while the Dolphins pick at No. 227.

Kilgore lands in a situation to be a starter. He also received, in essence, a 13.3-percent raise for leaving California to go to Florida, where there is no state income tax. The 49ers structured Kilgore's contract so the first payout of a $2.3 million roster bonus was scheduled for after the start of the new league year – after the trade. The Dolphins pick up the entirety of the three-year, $11.75 million contract the 49ers negotiated with Kilgore.

Kilgore said he was never asked to compete for a job at guard with the 49ers. He said he did not request a trade, either. He was told, in essence, he was no longer in the 49ers’ plans.

General manager John Lynch told NBC Sports Bay Area last week both Richburg and Kilgore are best at center. To ask either to submit to a change of position would set up one of them for failure.

Looking back, Kilgore said he wonders if he should have turned down the 49ers’ offer and gone into free agency. But that approach had its risks, too. All he wanted, he said, was to be compensated fairly and remain with the 49ers.

“I was really thrown for a shock,” said Kilgore, who won the Bobb McKittrick Award last season for his displays of courage, intensity and sacrifice. “You just wonder, ‘What If I did go free agency?’ (But) that wasn’t me. I knew where that team was going. I’m familiar with the area, familiar with the coaching staff, my best friends are on the team. So I knew this is where I wanted to be. I didn’t see myself going anywhere else.”

Now, he will be moving to South Florida, where he will attempt to establish what he felt he had with the 49ers.

“You want to be there and be a part of something on the rise," Kilgore said. "That was the frustrating thing, that you’re no longer going to be there. It’s frustrating and heart-breaking, but you move on. I’m going to South Florida, and that makes things a heck of a lot better.”

Kilgore said he had some hard conversations with Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan last week. Ultimately, he said he respects both men for the way they handled an awkward situation. Lynch said last week when the 49ers signed Kilgore to an extension, the club believed there was a likelihood Richburg would not still be available a month later as a free agent. Richburg was the only center the 49ers would have sought to replace Kilgore, Lynch said.

“I hope the fans out there know the truth about everything and know that Kyle and John did it in the best interest of me and the best interest for the team moving forward,” Kilgore said. “There’s no bad grudges or anything like that. We’re all still friends at the end of the day.”

Report: 49ers scheduled to meet with free-agent defensive back


Report: 49ers scheduled to meet with free-agent defensive back

Versatile free-agent defensive back Jaylen Watkins is reportedly scheduled to visit the 49ers on Wednesday.

Watkins’ meeting with the 49ers coincides with veteran cornerback Richard Sherman’s appearance at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara for a noon press conference. Sherman signed a three-year contract with the 49ers on March 10 – one day after the Seattle Seahawks released him.

The 49ers are in the market for backups in the defensive backfield. Watkins (5-foot-11, 195 pounds) started five games in five games in four seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles while appearing in 36 games.

Watkins, 26, played three snaps on defense and 17 plays on special teams in the Eagles’ 41-33 victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 52 on Feb. 4. He entered the NFL in 2014 as a fourth-round draft pick from Florida.

The NFL Network reported Watkins’ meeting with the 49ers is the first of multiple visits he has scheduled.