Colin Kaepernick might want to rethink that whole opting-out-of-his-contract thing. The 49ers quarterback, who had been playing well since taking over from Blaine Gabbert in Week 6, found himself back on the bench Sunday after setting an NFL record for quarterbacking futility.
In a 26-6 loss to the Bears, Kaepernick became the first QB in league history to be sacked five times and throw for fewer than five yards in a game. In addition, Kaepernick and Gabbert combined for negative-six net passing yards, including yardage lost on sacks, for the 49ers’ lowest mark in that category since 1963 (per ESPN Stats & Information).
In wet, snowy conditions in Chicago which made throwing the ball difficult for both teams — well, that and the fact that the quarterbacks involved also included the Bears’ Matt Barkley — Kaepernick attempted five passes, completing just one for four yards, before being replaced by Gabbert in the fourth quarter with the 49ers down by 18. Gabbert fared little better, completing 4 of 10 passes for 35 yards while also getting sacked in the end zone for a safety.
Kaepernick couldn’t even get anything going with his legs, carrying the ball six times for just 20 yards, this after racking up 113 yards on the ground the week before. He entered the game second among NFL quarterbacks in rushing yardage, with 373, despite not having played until Week 6.
“It wasn’t something I was expecting,” Kaepernick said afterward about his benching (via ESPN). He added: “This coaching staff didn’t feel like I was out there being able to help this team win, so they made a change, whether I agree with that or not.”
Though his first six starts had all ended in losses, Kaepernick had looked like a good match for Coach Chip Kelly’s scheme and conjured up memories of 2014, the last time he was an effective quarterback. Thus reports that he was going to opt out of his contract after this season but likely re-sign with the 49ers seemed to make sense.
That could still happen, and it would represent quite a turnaround from early in the offseason, when it appeared as if Kaepernick’s sizable contract was the only thing keeping San Francisco from cutting him or trading him. But he had played well, arguably all the more so considering the national scrutiny of his political comments and actions, until an ugly turnaround in Chicago that handed the quarterback an unwanted chapter in the NFL record book.