Free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick is undoubtedly one of the most polarizing sports figures in recent memory. His protests against the social injustices in America are discussed on social media, TV outlets and in regular conversation among people essentially every day.
We saw a number of players last year — some of which were teammates of Kaepernick — who protested as well. Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch and Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett were the most recent ones to make headlines for not standing for the National Anthem before each of their preseason games last week.
Whether you agree, disagree or even care at all about Kaepernick’s stance on what’s going on in this country is completely up to you. Regardless, facts are facts.
The most important fact here is that Colin Kaepernick belongs on an NFL roster.
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is one of the most durable players to ever play the position. His streak of 185 straight starts ranks second to only Eli Manning who has made 211 consecutive starts. However, no matter how durable you may be, all it takes in NFL is one play to change everything.
So, if Philip Rivers were to go down with an injury and had to miss significant time, here’s what the Chargers are left with.
- Kellen Clemens - 12 seasons, 54.6% career completion percentage, 4,017 career yards, 16 touchdowns, 20 interceptions and 11 fumbles.
- Cardale Jones - 2nd season, one game played in which he was 6-11 for 96 yards, 0 touchdowns and 1 interception.
Kellen Clemens has started more than five games in only two of the 12 years he’s been in the league. His BEST season was in 2013 where he started 9 games, threw for 1,673 yards, only 8 touchdowns, 7 interceptions with a 58.7% completion percentage.
On the other hand..
- Colin Kaepernick - 6 seasons, 59.8% completion percentage, 12,271 passing yards, 72 touchdowns, 30 interceptions, 2,300 rushing yards, 13 rushing touchdowns.
In 2016, in what was far from his best season, Kaepernick started 11 games. He threw for 2,241 yards, 16 touchdowns to only four interceptions with a 59.2% completion percentage.
The worst backup QB in the NFL. https://t.co/epuHvkfgP9— Bolts From The Blue (@BFTB_Chargers) August 14, 2017
It's Year 12 for Kellen Clemens, and he's never thrown more than one touchdown than his interception total in even one NFL season. Legend.— Justis Mosqueda (@JuMosq) August 14, 2017
It’s no secret that Kellen Clemens is and has always been terrible.
Now, about Cardale Jones. It’s entirely way too early to project what kind of player Cardale Jones will turn out to be. He has all the physical tools you’d want in a quarterback. He’s 6’5, 250 pounds, mobile and has a huge arm, but he’s still raw. Honestly, Jones is still a few years out from being really ready to play.
Small sampling, but Cardale Jones doesn't look like an NFL quarterback— Jeff Pearlman (@jeffpearlman) August 14, 2017
Cardale Jones is 2-9 passing right now against 3rd teamers, in case you were worried.— Kevin Massare (@KevinMassare) August 14, 2017
Colin Kaepernick has proven he’s more just a running quarterback. If the Chargers were to sign him, the playbook opens up even more. Lynn’s offense has a RPO (run-pass option) concept that you won’t see much of because Rivers is a non-threat as a runner.
The Chargers would also give him the best wide receiver unit he’s had in a long time, maybe ever. Even though star wide receiver Keenan Allen was lost for the season in Week 1, Antonio Gates, Tyrell Williams, Travis Benjamin, and Dontrelle Inman all had at least 500+ yards, 30+ receptions and at least four touchdowns. Hunter Henry was the only one who didn’t reach the 500+ yard mark but he led the group in touchdowns with eight.
- Antonio Gates - 53 catches, 548 yards, 7 touchdowns in 14 games
- Tyrell Williams - 69 catches, 1,059 yards, 7 touchdowns in 16 games
- Travis Benjamin - 47 catches, 677 yards, 4 touchdowns in 14 games
- Dontrelle Inman - 58 catches, 810 yards, 4 touchdowns in 16 games
- Hunter Henry - 36 catches, 478 yards, 8 touchdowns in 15 games
The 49er receivers in 2016:
- Torrey Smith - 20 catches, 267 yards, 3 touchdowns in 12 games
- Jeremy Kerley - 64 catches, 667 yards, 3 touchdowns in 16 games
- Quinton Patton - 37 catches, 408 yards, 0 touchdowns in 14 games
- Vance McDonald - 24 catches, 391 yards, 4 touchdowns in 11 games
- Garrett Celek - 29 catches, 350 yards, 3 touchdowns in 16 games.
The 49ers never had a true number one receiver, nor did they have the deep-threat receiver that forced opposing defenses to account for at all times. Their passing attack ranked dead last in 2016 and it’s really not hard to tell why.
Stick To Football
The phrase “stick to sports” gets thrown around so much when someone in sports takes a political stance about the politics in not only sports, but the world. Truthfully, the ones who use the phrase the most are the ones who refuse to acknowledge what exactly it is that Kaepernick is protesting about. However, if we’re really going to stick to football here, I'm having a hard time finding reasons as to why Kaepernick’s abilities ON THE FIELD aren’t good enough to at least warrant a backup job.
The false narrative of Kaepernick not being good enough to play anymore is laughable to say the least. Blake Bortles has 11 career wins. He also has 11 career pick-sixes. He’s also still out here doing things like this and this. Brian Hoyer has a job as a starter. The Jets quarterback situation with Josh McCown, Christian Hackenburg and others is still a mess. The Broncos have two guys in Paxton Lynch and Trevor Siemian who are struggling to prove themselves as a quality NFL starter.
If Philip Rivers goes down the Chargers are done unless they upgrade the backup quarterback position. Kellen Clemens has never been the answer and no one knows if Cardale Jones is either. Regardless, if Anthony Lynn and Tom Telesco are serious about making this team better at every position, winning games, and being prepared for the unexpected, Kaepernick deserves a shot.