49ers

Maybe our wanting him to play isn’t the best thing for Colin Kaepernick

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AP

Maybe our wanting him to play isn’t the best thing for Colin Kaepernick

The National Football League’s 32 overlords have been made increasingly uncomfortable by the pressures between its now dual purpose – putting on demonstrations of entertainment and being a prop for patriotic symbolism. It is a dance that rich men in their upper 60s and beyond aren’t really very well equipped to do.

But that’s what happens when you try to be all things to all people – at least all people who have the money to afford it. Eventually you find yourselves staring back at yourselves and wondering what the hell you’ve done to yourselves.

Put another way, this has gotten a lot bigger than Colin Kaepernick not having a quarterbacking gig. In fact, it has probably made the minimal notion that some owner would consider doing so that much more remote. Putting aside the rightness or wrongness of signing him, no owner in these profoundly uncertain times for the business is going to take on a new “burden.”

And there’s a part of me that wonders whether that is actually a bad thing in the end.

Not because he shouldn’t have the opportunity. If football is a meritocracy, and nobody can explain why he isn’t one of the 64 best quarterbacks in the nation, he should have a place somewhere. If he wants to play, and there is no evidence that he doesn’t, and the need for his talents is there, and it seems to be, any owner whose team needs a quarterback and chooses to avoid Kaepernick because of his uppity knee is committing a political act.

But we also know that football is essentially a dangerous pastime for people with heads and brains, and there is something slightly off-putting about us wanting that level of long-term danger for someone else. As we learn more about the cost of playing the sport, maybe our wanting him to play isn’t the best thing for him.

In other words, Colin Kaepernick should be someone’s quarterback by virtue of the level of talent at the position. He should chase his football desire without having to abandon his conscience.

But the essential lunacy of him having no quarterbacking job is, at least for me, balanced by the knowledge that football is in large part not good for a human head. And I kind of like where his head is at these days.

So if he never plays again, I will shake my head at the absurdity and rigidity of the people who run the sport, and revel in their ongoing discomfort because they conflated economics and politics and paid the price for that misjudgment.

And I will feel okay with him never playing again, just because if I have to choose between brain health and my Sunday amusement, I'll take option A.

Kilgore: All of 49ers on same page 'for the first time in a long time'

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USATSI

Kilgore: All of 49ers on same page 'for the first time in a long time'

The 49ers’ coaching staff made its feelings known to center Daniel Kilgore throughout the season.

But, in the past, that would not have necessarily meant everyone in the organization had the same thoughts about Kilgore, who was scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent.

“The whole season, coaches and I had a good relationship,” Kilgore said Wednesday on conference call with Bay Area reporters. “Just talking and having one-on-ones with various coaches, I had a positive outlook for the future.

“But that’s just one thing. The coaches have an opinion of you, but then there’s also the front office. That’s two totally different things. And I think for the first time in a long time, our coaches and the front office are on the same page.”

Kilgore was working out back home in Tennessee on Wednesday when he signed a three-year contract to avoid hitting the free-agent market. Kilgore, 30, a seven-year NFL veteran, described the contract as a team-friendly deal.

The 49ers presented Kilgore with a contract offer during the season but negotiations did not get serious until just recently. While the 49ers expressed interest in retaining Kilgore, he said he did not know what the future held for him when he packed his belongings from the locker room on the day after the season ended.

“It kind of makes you nervous because in this profession, people like the younger guys,” Kilgore said. “You just never know what will happen at any time, any given day, in the NFL. So toward the end, that last day of clearing out the locker, I didn’t know if I’d be back. I didn’t know if the Niners would want me back.”

Kilgore was named the winner of the organization’s top honor for an offensive lineman. Kilgore won the Bobb McKittrick Award for best exemplifying the dedication, excellence and commitment of the long-time 49ers offensive line coach. Kilgore started all 29 games in which he appeared the past two seasons, including a career-high 16 games last season.

"I've been here seven years and I consider the Bay Area my second home,” Kilgore said. “To be able to extend my career wearing the 49ers jersey was special to me. This team is heading in the right direction, I wanted to be a part of it."

Why the 49ers did not hesitate to pay Garoppolo big money

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Matt Maiocco

Why the 49ers did not hesitate to pay Garoppolo big money

When Jimmy Garoppolo signed a contract that could pay him up to $137.5 million over the next five years, he was asked what convinced him during his nine weeks with the organization that he wanted to be with the 49ers for the long term.

“I think it was a number of things,” Garoppolo said last week. “The team, the acceptance that they had of me when I first got here from the get-go, the coaching staff, Kyle and Rich. It was a very welcoming environment, and I really liked that. We had some success down the stretch, and you could see that pieces were falling into place. We've got a long way to go, but I think we're moving in the right direction.”

Kyle, of course, is head coach Kyle Shanahan. Rich Scagarello is the 49ers’ quarterbacks coach, and the person from whom Garoppolo spent the most time after arriving in Santa Clara on Oct. 31 after a trade with the New England Patriots.

Garoppolo earned $3.5 million in his first four NFL seasons. His new contract makes him the NFL’s highest-paid player, making an average of $27.5 million per season, with $48.7 million fully guaranteed.

Scangarello, appearing this week on The 49ers Insider Podcast, talked about what he learned about Garoppolo from working so closely with him to teach him Shanahan's offense. Scangarello said there is no question in his mind the money will not change Garoppolo’s approach to his work.

“That’s why it was easy for the organization and everyone to invest in somebody like Jimmy Garoppolo,” Scangarello said. “I just think that’s not the kind of person he is. If you met his family, you know where he comes from, what he’s about. His brothers, his parents, are just good, solid people people. He’s made of the right stuff and I just don’t see that affecting him in that way.

“It’s just not who he is. That’s the fun part of working with somebody like that every day. When they’re really talented and they appreciate everything and they work at it, you have a chance to be a successful organization and they can be a great player. And I don’t think those things will ever affect him.”