Colin Kaepernick's rookie jersey has become more than just memorabilia


Colin Kaepernick's rookie jersey has become more than just memorabilia

It started with a distinct high-pitched whiz of the football traveling through the air and then the boom of it hitting the receiver in the hands. That is Aaron Prince’s first memory of Colin Kaepernick. 

It was 2005 at an Elite 11 regional event at California Memorial Stadium and Prince was working as a writer for Rivals covering the recruiting classes of both Cal and Nevada. He knew immediately that Kaepernick was destined for great things and became a proponent for the college prospect following his path to Nevada and beyond.

What Prince didn’t know was that that the young quarterback from John H. Pittman High School in Turlock, California would start one of the most divisive movements in sports history. 

Flash forward 14 years and Prince believes there is another part of the story that is destined for greater things. He owns Kaepernick’s rookie jersey that the 49ers quarterback wore while taking his first regular-season snap in the NFL. 

Prince believes the jersey, a Christmas gift for his wife Celeste, is among the most significant pieces of memorabilia in sports. While it has sentimental value to his family, he believes it should be in a place where more people can appreciate and learn from it, which why he has chosen to put it up for auction. 

“It’s one of those things where he’s become such an icon and an inspiration to so many people that it’s really not just a piece of football memorabilia anymore,” Prince said. “He’s at the level that very few people could ever achieve. 

“I think 50 years from now we will look back at him in the same way that we look back at Muhammad Ali. That’s the closest way I can maybe compare him, because of the difference that he stood for. Even as a former military member I believe that.” 

It was only one snap on October 2, 2011. It started as a change of pace play on third-and-17 in Philadelphia. Kaepernick was likely to take the direct snap and run with the football like he had done so successfully at Nevada. 

The 49ers ended up calling a time out and the play was changed to a handoff to Frank Gore who went for five yards. Subsequently, the team punted and veteran quarterback Alex Smith finished the remainder of the game under center. 

“Ironically, this represents a completely forgettable, blink-and-you’d-miss-it start to a career that ended in the exact opposite way,” said Chris Nerat, football memorabilia expert at Heritage Auctions where the item has been consigned. 

“One would hope that even those who object to Kaepernick’s message or method would respect the courage he’s displayed in sacrificing so much to stand--or, rather, to kneel--on principle,” Nerat added. “History has judged the likes of Muhammad Ali and Curt Flood well, and we suspect that past will prove to be prologue here as well.” 

The relationship between Prince and the Kaepernick family grew over time. Even though Kaepernick had a great performance at Memorial Stadium in 2005, Cal's head coach at the time, Jeff Tedford, didn’t even speak to Kaepernick, already having another player in mind to lead his offense. 

Prince recalls Kaepernick being deflated after Tedford didn’t even come down to the field to meet him. Prince kept Kaepernick in mind, wrote about him, believing he still had a shot at a scholarship. 

“Colin is just one of those kids who stood out to me,” Prince said. “I was really, really happy when Nevada decided to spend their very final spot in their recruiting class on him. I thought he was a difference-maker and it ended up being that he’s the number one football player they’ve ever had.” 

Prince and his wife went to several Wolfpack games and his support for Kaepernick did not go unnoticed by Colin’s father, Rick. They kept in touch through Colin’s exceptional career at Nevada as well as his return to Northern California as a member of the 49ers. 

At the end of Colin’s rookie year, Prince had dinner with Rick and revealed his wife’s longtime fandom of the 49ers and his desire to get her something of Colin’s for Christmas. 

“I think because of the interest that I showed in Colin and recruit interest in general,” Prince explained. “The fact that I noticed him a long time ago, went to a lot of his games and just kept monitoring him and kept up with him. He gave me some cleats, a few signed pictures, and then he walked me back to Colin’s closet and said, ‘Pick any jersey you want.’” 

Prince said the white one he chose was simply the one that stood out to him. He has been questioned why he didn’t choose the red home jersey, but it turns out he chose the one that marked Kaepernick's first snap as a rookie. 

Prince recalled that when Kaepernick signed it for him, he knew exactly which jersey it was, having only two in that first season. The white version for away games, and the red for home matchups. 

Prince is proud and supportive of Kaepernick’s cause but also believes it is unfortunate that it has been the reason he is no longer playing in the NFL. He is one of the many supporters who believe that the quarterback should still be on a roster. 

“Absolutely he should still be playing,” Prince said. “There’s been a number of opportunities out there. Nobody can tell me that Mark Sanchez is better than Colin Kaepernick. No offense to Mark Sanchez, who was a heck of a quarterback in his day, but this is a Super Bowl quarterback and he has very low tread on the tires and still loves the game.” 

[RELATED: How 'Friday' became inspiration for Deebo Samuel's nickname]

As far as the jersey finding a new home, Prince hopes that it goes somewhere where it can bring awareness to what Kaepernick has done and is continuing to do. 

“I don’t want it to end up in a window that no one sees,” Prince said. “I would hope that it would end up in a place that Kap has inspired greatly or to a person who loves what he stood up for, but also understands that he gave up the honor to wear that uniform to stand up for more important issues in this world. Someone who has that understanding.” 

Colin Kaepernick's rookie jersey is available for bidding on ha.com until May 16th, 10 p.m. CST. After that time potential extended bidding could take place. 

Watch 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan recite his longest play from memory


Watch 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan recite his longest play from memory

If you're like me, you can't remember anything. This is the part where I say, "I can barely remember what I had for breakfast," but you caught me on a good day.

Toast with butter and strawberry jelly, and scrambled eggs -- with ketchup, because I'm weird. 

So when it comes to remembering an entire football play  ... well, that's why some of us play the sport -- and others just watch it.

Listen to 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan recite his longest play:

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has to memorize these types of plays, which is insane. Then has to relay the information to the huddle -- yeah I know, you know football. I'm just trying to remind you of the steps. But at least Jimmy G gets to repeat the play at least one additional time, right?

That should be enough. 

[RELATED: David Carr doesn't rank Montana as top-10 Super Bowl-era QB]

I asked five-year veteran quarterback Sean Salisbury about the longest play he had to memorize in his NFL career.

"Explode to double right, Zoom, Scat right 585 Dodge, X Post check with me 60 outside. Double cadence on 2," Salisbury told NBC Sports Bay Area. "That’s one."

So Shanahan isn't the only "wizard" in this scenario -- or any of the scenarios. 

Chip Kelly 'not surprised' ex-49ers assistant prevented school shooting


Chip Kelly 'not surprised' ex-49ers assistant prevented school shooting

Chip Kelly knows the type of person Keanon Lowe is. It's why Kelly recruited Lowe as a football player at the University of Oregon, and years later had him on his staffs with the Eagles and 49ers as an assistant.

When Lowe prevented a school shooting Friday at Parkrose High in Portland, Ore., Kelly wasn't surprised at all. In fact, what the now-UCLA coach wanted to know was Lowe's form in going from a former receiver to a defensive player in a heroic act.

“I wanted to know his [tackling] technique,” Kelly said Saturday to Scott Osler of the San Francisco Chronicle. “He told me it was like when he was on kickoff coverage, it really didn’t matter how you tackled 'em as long as you got 'em to the ground.”

Lowe now is the head football coach and security guard at Parkrose. The school was on a 23-game losing streak when he arrived, and Kelly isn't surprised Lowe would step into a situation so far from the NFL.

"He’s just a special person that’s always wanting to help and serve," Kelly said. "He’s the type of kid you just want to be around him. He’s a special young man, and I think everybody is fortunate he was where he was yesterday afternoon.”

[RELATED: Kerr lauds ex-49ers assistant for preventing school shooting]

Lowe played two seasons under Kelly at Oregon. He made 18 tackles on special teams between his freshman and sophomore years.