Former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been linked to one team more than any other since he became a free agent in 2017.
That team won't be the first to sign Kaepernick since he opted out of his 49ers contract when San Francisco's new brain trust told him he'd otherwise be released. Its coach, however, said another team called him about Kaepernick for the first time Thursday.
Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll told reporters in a video conference call he's content with Geno Smith backing up Russell Wilson, but Carroll revealed another team called Thursday for information on Kaepernick for the first time since he visited with the Seahawks as a free agent three years ago.
"After all of the time, the years that have passed, I never received a phone call about him," Carroll said. "I never talked to another head coach about it, never talked to anybody about it -- until today. I got a phone call today. I'm not gonna tell you who it was. I got a phone call today asking and inquiring about the situation, so I know somebody's interested. So we'll see what happens with that."
[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]
Kaepernick has not played in the NFL since 2016. He made headlines that season for kneeling during the national anthem in protest of police brutality and institutional racism, and the 32-year-old alleged in a collusion lawsuit settled last February that he has not been signed by an NFL team because of his protest.
The Seahawks hosted Kaepernick for a visit in 2017, and Carroll said Kaepernick impressed him during their time together. Carroll claimed Thursday he didn't sign the QB at the time because "it was so obvious that he's a starter in the NFL."
"I thought at the time, in our situation as a backup, I didn't feel it was right at that time," Carroll said. "I had to make that football decision. It was about our team, we had our starting quarterback, all of that. It wasn't going to be the open, competitive situation that I'd like to think all of our spots are because Russell is such a dominant figure and all that."
Carroll denied that the Seahawks did not bring Kaepernick in for a visit in 2018 because of his protest. Multiple outlets reported at the time that Seattle nixed a potential visit because Kaepernick wouldn't commit to standing during the anthem that season.
Kaepernick's protest has received renewed attention in the weeks after George Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American man, was killed in Minneapolis police custody. Floyd's death set off global protests of the same issues Kaepernick sought to highlight nearly four years ago, and Carroll said Kaepernick "was right on point" in doing so. Carroll also praised Kaepernick on The Ringer's "Flying Coach" podcast last week, saying "we owe a tremendous amount" to the QB because of his stance.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who said in 2016 he didn't "necessarily agree with what [Kaepernick was] doing," said last week in a video statement that the league was "wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier" after numerous players called on the league to admit as much in a video produced by a league employee. Goodell's statement didn't mention Kaepernick by name, nor did he mention the national anthem.
Carroll argued Thursday that Kaepernick "deserves to be playing," and he hopes that the quarterback gets another chance in the NFL. The Seahawks coach said he regrets he wasn't the one to provide it three years ago.
"When you look back, I feel like we missed the opportunity," Carroll said. "So as I look back at it, I wish we could've figured it out knowing what we know now and given him the chance because I would have loved to see him play football those years."