49ers

Shanahan not closing door on Kaepernick's return to 49ers

Shanahan not closing door on Kaepernick's return to 49ers

INDIANAPOLIS – The 49ers’ organization has gotten a fresh start with a new coach and a new general manager.

And the team’s decision-makers are also starting with a new set of eyes to chart the course for the team’s future at quarterback.

“I won’t close any door,” Shanahan said of the possibility of re-signing Colin Kaepernick, who is expected to opt out of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent.

“We’re going to look for who we think gives us the best chance to win and who can help us the most. Kap is one of those guys that’s available.”

Kaepernick’s decision to become an unrestricted free agent is a formality that will not force the 49ers to release him in order to avoid his scheduled $14.9 million pay for the 2017 season.

“There had to be a decision made on Kap, and mainly he made that decision,” Shanahan said Wednesday at the NFL Scouting Combine. “If he wouldn’t have, we would’ve had to make a decision. But by that happening, it throws him into the boat with everyone else. It’s not that you’re deciding to part ways or not, he decided to do that. It throws him into the boat everybody else is in, which makes it easy for us.

“We don’t have an attachment to Kap. We look at him just like all the other guys that I’m looking at. It was good to get to meet him, talk to him, but besides that, we’re looking at him on film like everybody else.”

Kaepernick met last week with Shanahan and general manager John Lynch at team headquarters in Santa Clara. During that conversation, Kaepernick intimated he would opt out of his contract, Shanahan said. The 49ers told Kaepernick he would be evaluated like all the other quarterback options this offseason.

“We told him straight up, we’re throwing you into the pool with all the other guys,” Shanahan said. “We have to evaluate all the free agents, the trade possibilities and the draft, and whatever we think the best scenario is the way we’re going to go. But Kap’s in that. He’s involved in that. Just like anybody else."

Kaepernick started 11 games for the 49ers last season and posted his best statistical season since 2013. Kaepernick completed 59.2 percent of his pass attempts with 16 touchdowns, four interceptions and a passer rating of 90.7. He also rushed for 468 yards.

Shanahan said there are no issues with designing an offense that accentuates Kaepernick’s strengths.

“What Kap did to go to the Super Bowl, he ran similar offense to what we did in 2012,” Shanahan said, referring to the Washington offense during Robert Griffin's rookie season.  “I think that’s the kind of stuff that gives him the best chance to be successful.

“You’ll adjust to anybody. Would I do the exact same stuff I’ve done in Atlanta? That’s different than what I’ve done for other people. So it’s going to always change. But with Kap’s skillset, if he was your guy, you’d adjust to him.”

The 49ers have discussed all the quarterback options, including trades, Shanahan said. Washington’s Kirk Cousins and New England’s Jimmy Garoppolo might not be available in trades. Even if they were, the price would be exorbitant.

But if the 49ers were to wait a season, it’s possible they could be available as free agents and the 49ers would not have to surrender draft picks.

“All that comes into play,” Shanahan said. “Yes, you have targets of people you want, but you have to be smart and value your initial needs with the organizational needs in the immediate future and the long haul. You’re always thinking about how to win now, but that can never be at the expense of the future, too.”

While the 49ers feel urgency to fill their need at quarterback, Shanahan said the decision must be calculated to provide the best long-term results for the organization. Both Shanahan and general manager John Lynch are on six-year contracts, which implies there will be patience to allow them to build.

“I’m very eager,” Shanahan said. “We’re all very eager. But it’s important, coming here, we’re also going to make the right decision. We’re not going to do something just because we’re eager. Everybody wants your quarterback and you want to not have to worry about that. But you also have to make sure the guy that you want is there. A lot of bad decisions are made by people who are just eager.

“John and myself came here and we knew we could make decisions might not always be the flashiest, but we truly think it’s best for our organization. That’s how you stay out of trouble.”

 

LeBron James: Colin Kaepernick ‘had a vision like Martin Luther King’

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USATSI/AP

LeBron James: Colin Kaepernick ‘had a vision like Martin Luther King’

LeBron James is an avid football fan. He's now an even bigger Colin Kaepernick fan than the sport. Following the Cavaliers' practice on Sunday, James opened up on Kaepernick and his absence from the NFL. 

"I've commended Kap, and for him to sacrifice everything for the greater good for everyone, for what he truly believed in, the utmost respect to him," James said to ESPN. "Obviously he had a vision like Martin Luther King and like some of our all-time greats that people couldn't see further than what they were doing at the point and time. And Muhammad Ali and things of that nature."

James believes the masses don't truly understand what Kaepernick was doing when he first took a knee as a protest against social and racial injustices in America. For his actions, James respects Kaepernick choosing his beliefs over his sport.

"When it's something that's new and it's something that people are not educated about or don't understand what your beliefs are all about, people are so quick to judge and people are so quick to say that what you're doing is wrong," James said. "For him to sacrifice the sport that he plays and to sacrifice the things he's done his whole life because he knew what he believed in, I salute him. I salute and respect that."

Add James to the list of those who believe Kaepernick is being blackballed by the NFL for taking a knee last season. The more games he watches, the more James sees the evidence on the wall. 

"I don't represent the NFL. I don't know their rules and regulations. But I do know Kap is getting a wrong doing, I do know that," James believes. "Just watching, he's an NFL player. He's an NFL player and you see all these other quarterbacks out there and players out there that get all these second and third chances that are nowhere near as talented as him. It just feels like he's been blackballed out of the NFL. So, I definitely do not respect that."

Kaepernick, who recently turned 30 years old, appeared in 12 games for the 49ers in the 2016-17 season. Through the air he completed 59.2 percent of his passes and ended the year with 2,241 yards, 16 touchdowns and four interceptions. Kaepernick also added 468 yards and two more scores on the ground. 

"The only reason I could say he's not on a team is because the way he took a knee," James said. "That's the only reason. I watch football every Sunday, every Thursday, every Monday night. I see all these quarterbacks -- first-string, second-team, third-team quarterbacks -- that play sometimes when the starter gets hurt or are starters that play. Kap is better than a lot of those guys. Let's just be honest."

For his career, Kaepernick has thrown for 12,271 yards and 72 touchdowns to 30 interceptions. With his speed as a dual-threat quarterback, Kaepernick has also gained 2,300 yards rushing and 13 more touchdowns. 

Former 49ers quarterback takes over under center for Cardinals

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AP

Former 49ers quarterback takes over under center for Cardinals

TEMPE, Ariz. — Blaine Gabbert will get his first start for the Arizona Cardinals when they play the Texans in Houston on Sunday.

Coach Bruce Arians announced the decision after Friday's practice.

Drew Stanton, the starter the last two games, bruised his knee early in the Thursday night loss to Seattle last week. He stayed in the game but has been limited in practice all week.

Arians said it will be a game-time decision as to whether Stanton or recently signed Matt Barkley would be Gabbert's backup.

Gabbert will be making his 41st NFL start. He has a 9-31 record. He signed with Arizona last offseason and was the third quarterback until Carson Palmer broke his arm against the Los Angeles Rams in London and was lost for the season.