Miami Dolphins

Ex-49ers teammate explains why Colin Kaepernick fits in today's NFL

Ex-49ers teammate explains why Colin Kaepernick fits in today's NFL

Every NFL team is looking for the next Patrick Mahomes. Or the next Lamar Jackson, Deshaun Watson or Russell Wilson. 

The 49ers had exactly that in Colin Kaepernick, a game-changing dual-threat quarterback.

Seven-year pro Michael Thomas saw that firsthand back in 2012, the first year Kaepernick took over for Alex Smith as the 49ers' starting QB and led them to the Super Bowl. Thomas was a safety on San Francisco's practice squad that year before carving out a role with the Miami Dolphins and New York Giants. He even made the Pro Bowl in 2018. 

And Thomas finds it unexplainable how NFL teams aren't fighting to get Kaepernick's skill set on the field. 

"He’s the type of quarterback that today’s NFL is built for," Thomas, now with the Houston Texans, wrote as the guest writer in Peter King's "Football Morning in America" column for NBC Sports. "It’s built for the mobile quarterback, it’s built for the quarterback who can run but also throw. He’s that dual-threat option. He’s mobile, and he has a big arm that can hit the deep threat. He causes confusion for defenses if he gets into any kind of zone-read option. And obviously the RPO game is bigger than ever.

"Set aside for a second what the league would gain in terms of credibility by bringing him back. From a pure football standpoint, his style fits the league perfectly."

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Over his six-year career, five as a starter, Kaepernick totaled 12,271 passing yards and 72 touchdowns through the air. He also had 2,300 career rushing yards and another 13 TDs. 

But Kaepernick hasn't played in the NFL since 2016, the same year he first began sitting, then kneeling during the national anthem as a peaceful protest against racial and social injustices. Thomas, as a member of the Dolphins, played against Kaepernick that season, and the QB was dominant. 

The less-talented 49ers lost 31-24 in Miami, but Kaepernick's ability as a passer and runner were on full display. He completed 29 of 46 passes for 296 yards and three touchdowns, and was intercepted once. He also rushed 10 times for 113 yards -- his last game with at least 100 on the ground. 

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The 49ers were just 1-9 going into that game against the 6-4 Dolphins. Kaepernick was tackled at the 2-yard line to end it, falling just short of completely putting the team on his back in a rough road environment.

That also was nearly four years ago. There are no guarantees Kaepernick will play another game of football in his life. To Thomas, that's baffling, and understandably so.

Ex-49er Frank Gore says he never pondered retiring before joining Jets

Ex-49er Frank Gore says he never pondered retiring before joining Jets

Frank Gore had a full career in a decade with the 49ers, and he arguably has had one in the five seasons since.

Gore's 11,073 rushing yards with San Francisco are nearly 4,000 clear of the next closest running back (Joe Perry) in franchise history. Add that with Gore's 4,274 yards since leaving the 49ers in 2014, and only Walter Payton and Emmit Smith are ahead of Gore on the NFL's all-time rushing list.

Still, there aren't many 37-year-old running backs playing these days. His age makes Gore, who signed with the New York Jets this offseason, a modern anomaly. That doesn't mean he contemplated retirement after spending his 15th NFL season with the Buffalo Bills in 2019.

"I didn't," Gore said on a Zoom call with reporters covering the Jets on Thursday. "I didn't because when I was playing, like the first six or seven games, I was ballin'. I was ballin'. Once Buffalo went and started playing younger guys, I felt like I still could do it. I just had to see what team would give me the opportunity."

Gore rushed 86 times for 388 yards (4.51 per carry) during the first six games of 2019, getting at least 10 carries in each game. He rushed the ball 80 times in his next nine games, averaging just 2.64 yards per attempt and toting the rock 10-plus times in just four games down the stretch.

Before ultimately deciding to reunite with coach Adam Gase, who convinced Gore to join his hometown Miami Dolphins in 2018, the running back consulted someone close to him about returning: His son, Frank Jr., incoming freshman running back at Southern Mississippi.

"I asked my son what he think I should do, my older son, and he's gonna be in college this year," Gore recalled. "He was like, 'Dad, I think you can go one more.' So I said, 'Alright, I'm gonna go.' "

[RELATED: 49ers shouldn't care Wilson reportedly wants AB in Seattle]

If this is indeed Gore's last season, he'll get (at least) one more chance to play against the 49ers. The Niners are scheduled to visit the Jets in Week 2 at MetLife Stadium.

That's a big if, though.

"I don't think about that," Gore said when asked how much more he has left in the tank. "I've taken it one day at a time, one year at a time."

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

How 49ers lucked out with 2020 NFL schedule compared to last season

How 49ers lucked out with 2020 NFL schedule compared to last season

The 49ers now know the path they must take to get back to the Super Bowl, and while they have the NFC's toughest strength of schedule for the 2020 NFL season, San Francisco lucked out from a weather and climate perspective.

Compared to last season, the 49ers' 2020 schedule should be much more comfortable.

In general, San Francisco is far less likely to encounter the extreme weather the team dealt with at various points throughout the 2019 season. Barring something unforeseen, the 49ers won't play a game in the extreme cold, and their warmest games are likely to come at home.

Whereas San Francisco opened the 2019 season in the swamp that is Tampa against the Buccaneers, the 49ers will not have to deal with any extreme southern climates in 2020. The Florida team comes to them this time -- they host the Miami Dolphins in Week 5 -- and San Francisco's road games in New Orleans and Dallas will be played in domes. Not to mention, those two contests both come in the second half of the season, when the weather is likely to be cooler in those locales. 

In fact, half of the 49ers' eight road games will be played in either a dome or a stadium with a roof. That includes the two road games against the Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Rams, where, depending on the time of year, temperatures could get sky high. However, San Francisco travels to LA in late November and Glendale in late December, when that will not be the case.

The 49ers' other four road games -- against the New York Giants, New York Jets, New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks -- all occur within the first eight weeks of the season. While New York is liable to be quite muggy in September, you'd much rather play there then compared to later in the winter, when heavy precipitation is all but assured. From a weather perspective, Week 8 at Seattle might be the worst the 49ers deal with all season long.

And while Seattle is no stranger to rain, it is highly unlikely to emulate the torrential downpour San Francisco encountered in Washington last season. The playing conditions -- and field -- were downright pitiful, and really mitigated the talent difference between the two teams. Though the 49ers ultimately won that game, they failed to score a single touchdown. It seems far less likely San Francisco will have to simultaneously battle a team and those same kind of extreme elements in 2020.

[RELATED: Five most critical games for 49ers' chances at No. 1 seed]

Now, granted, half of the 49ers' home slate will be played before the end of October, when local temperatures are likely to be at their highest point throughout the entire season. Levi's Stadium sure can get hot, but that always seems to be more of an issue for fans than the players on the field. In any case, provided there isn't an extended, sweltering heatwave, the climates for those early home games should be decently temperate -- especially compared to where many other teams will be playing their early-season games.

The 49ers' path back to the Super Bowl won't be easy by any means. But, at the very least, the weather shouldn't add too much to the difficulty.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]