Kaeper­nick re­ceives a rough ride from 49ers great Mon­tana

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - DES BIELER

Some Na­tional Foot­ball League ob­servers as­sume that Colin Kaeper­nick’s in­abil­ity to latch on with a team is solely based on his protests dur­ing the na­tional an­them last sea­son, but Joe Mon­tana begs to dif­fer. The three-time Su­per Bowl MVP says that Kaeper­nick’s pass­ing skills are as much a prob­lem as the “dis­trac­tions” he caused in the locker-room.

In fact, Mon­tana likened Kaeper­nick’s abil­ity to throw the foot­ball to that of Tim Te­bow, whose no­to­ri­ously slow and in­ac­cu­rate arm was the main rea­son his NFL ca­reer was so brief. The great­est quar­ter­back in the his­tory of the 49ers, if not the en­tire league, Mon­tana made it clear that he would be just as happy to never see Kaeper­nick in a San Fran­cisco uni­form again.

“Every­one thinks it is the stance he took; one of the things you don’t look for is dis­trac­tions in the lock­er­room,” Mon­tana re­cently said to the Sport­ing News. “You can go back to Bill Walsh and as soon as there were guys that weren’t fit­ting in what he was looking for, it didn’t matter how good you were. You weren’t on the team for very long.

“You have to have peo­ple who want the same thing, fight­ing for the same thing and will­ing to put in the time.”

The “will­ing to put in the time” re­mark echoes skep­ti­cism from other 49ers-re­lated fig­ures about Kaeper­nick’s ded­i­ca­tion to the sport. In May, MMQB’s Peter King wrote, “I spent a long draft week­end with the Nin­ers in Cal­i­for­nia, and there are those in the build­ing who think Kaeper­nick might ac­tu­ally rather do so­cial jus­tice work full-time than play quar­ter­back.”

San Fran­cisco gen­eral man­ager John Lynch spelled it out in June, when he said of Kaeper­nick’s pri­or­i­ties, “I think there is a per­cep­tion that foot­ball is not at the top of the list.”

When asked if he thought Kaeper­nick would be on an NFL ros­ter by the be­gin­ning of the sea­son, Mon­tana said, “I’m not sure, I think [if ] there’s an in­jury some­where he prob­a­bly gets in.” He added, “In most cases, you look at Tim Te­bow — a great guy and ev­ery­body was talk­ing about him.

“But what it comes down to is 40 per cent com­ple­tion or even in the low 50s, you can’t win in the league with that. You won’t be in the league very long. It comes down to his play as much as any­thing.”

As Te­bow did, Kaeper­nick gains much of his ef­fec­tive­ness from his abil­ity to run, while dis­play­ing an un­ortho­dox throw­ing mo­tion and sub­par ac­cu­racy for the NFL. How­ever, in a league where the av­er­age com­ple­tion per­cent­age has been a record-high 63.0 for the past two sea­sons, Kaeper­nick has not been ter­ri­bly far off, with a ca­reer per­cent­age of 59.8, whereas, in three sea­sons with the Bron­cos and Jets, Te­bow com­pleted a grue­some 47.9 per cent of his passes.

In ad­di­tion, if Kaeper­nick caused ma­jor dis­trac­tions in the 49ers’ locker-room last year as the team was plum­met­ing to a 2-14 de­ba­cle, you wouldn’t know it from a pres­ti­gious end-of-sea­son hon­our he was given. Team­mates voted to give him the Len Esh­mont Award, which is be­stowed on “the 49er who best ex­em­pli­fies the inspirational and coura­geous play” of the for­mer San Fran­cisco run­ning back.

“Kap was awe­some,” for­mer 49ers coach Chip Kelly, who was fired at the end of last sea­son, said in June (via all22.com).

“You know, at the be­gin­ning of the year, he made a stance in terms of what he be­lieved was right. We rec­og­nized and sup­ported his abil­ity to do that. But he never brought that into the locker-room. He ex­plained to all the play­ers his thought process and mind­set of what he was do­ing,” Kelly said.

“And there were some play­ers that agreed with him and some play­ers that didn’t agree with him. But af­ter that point, we heard from the out­side about what a dis­trac­tion it is, ex­cept those peo­ple weren’t in our locker-room and it never was a dis­trac­tion. He never turned it into a cir­cus or what­ever peo­ple think.”

BAY AREA NEWS GROUP FILE PHOTO

San Fran­cisco 49ers’ Colin Kaeper­nick throws against Seat­tle last sea­son. The con­tro­ver­sial QB is a free agent.

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