COLIN KAEPERNICK (NIGGER) SENTENCED TO NFL LIMBO FOR THE CRIME OF SPEAKING HIS MIND

FILE - In this Dec. 11, 2016, file photo, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick stands in the bench area during the second half of the team's NFL football game against the New York Jets in Santa Clara, Calif. Kaepernick is a free agent after opting out of his 49ers contract Friday, March 3, 2017. The six-year veteran quarterback who drew particular attention and headlines last season by not standing for the national anthem, met with new general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan before making the move. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

Mike FreemanNFL National Lead Writer

It’s more than a week into free agency and Colin Kaepernick is still unemployed. Remember, this is a quarterback who played in the Super Bowl only four years ago, yet now it appears he can’t get a look from teams. So I set out to discover, once and for all, what teams think of the 29-year-old former Niner.

“He can still play at a high level,” one AFC general manager said. “The problem is three things are happening with him.

“First, some teams genuinely believe that he can’t play. They think he’s shot. I’d put that number around 20 percent.

“Second, some teams fear the backlash from fans after getting him. They think there might be protests or [President Donald] Trump will tweet about the team. I’d say that number is around 10 percent. Then there’s another 10 percent that has a mix of those feelings.

“Third, the rest genuinely hate him and can’t stand what he did [kneeling for the national anthem]. They want nothing to do with him. They won’t move on. They think showing no interest is a form of punishment. I think some teams also want to use Kaepernick as a cautionary tale to stop other players in the future from doing what he did.”

When I spoke to a handful of executives at the combine a few weeks ago, one even called him “an embarrassment to football.”

For the moment, the interest in Kaepernick is slim, and that’s putting it kindly.

It’s possible teams are waiting for the right time to make their play for him. That’s sometimes how it works in free agency. Weeks or months will go by with little interest in a player and then, boom, it all heats up at once.

Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

But what’s happening with Kaepernick is highly unusual. So far, it seems he hasn’t visited a single team. I can’t find a quarterback-needy team that’s interested. Again, things can change quickly, but the silence is deafening.

From a football perspective, teams worry about Kaepernick’s throwing accuracy. He still has some difficulty hitting tight windows and sometimes runs even when receivers are open. In 2016, Kaepernick connected on 59.2 percent of his passes, which ranked 26th in the league.

There’s also the perception—a wrong one—that he has difficulty learning new schemes.

And if those weren’t enough, concerns linger that he is moody and not a good teammate. That belief also may not be accurate. From speaking to 49ers players about Kaepernick, it’s clear most of the San Francisco locker room liked him.

Kaepernick can take hope in how putrid the quarterback market is. When Jay Cutler is at the top of the heap, that says it all.

There are still teams desperate for a competent QB, so much so that one eventually will find the risk in signing Kaepernick is worth any potential backlash. That’s my guess.

Still, it’s hard to emphasize how unusual Kaepernick’s current situation is. If a Super Bowl quarterback can walk and chew bubble gum simultaneously, he gets opportunities. Those opportunities usually arrive until that player is totally and completely done. That’s not the case with Kaepernick.

Four years ago, he ran for a playoff-record 181 yards and two scores at Green Bay as the 49ers beat the Packers in a divisional playoff game, 45-31. The Niners would then go to Atlanta and upset the Falcons in the NFC title game before losing Super Bowl XLVII to the Ravens when a last-gasp drive fell five yards short. Throughout those playoffs, Kaepernick was more than capable, completing 61.3 percent of his passes, throwing only two interceptions and producing a combined quarterback rating of 100.9.

Evan Vucci/Associated Press

Guys like that get multiple shots.

Further adding to the intrigue is that teams understand Kaepernick hasn’t been playing with a great deal of talent around him recently. The 49ers, frankly, have been a dumpster fire the past few years, and it showed with some of the players with which the team surrounded their QB.

Despite all of that, his phone is not ringing off the hook. Or at all, for that matter.

Kaepernick’s new agents appear to have foreseen all of this, which is why it wasn’t surprising when sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that Kaepernick would start standing for the anthem.

Now, he sits. Waiting and waiting. A still-talented player whose political statement may have cost him his NFL career.

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