Colin Kaepernick’s future in the NFL is cloudy.
Prior to Kaepernick’s controversial protesting of the national anthem during a San Francisco 49ers preseason game on Friday, he was already fighting for his job.
Over the last three years, Kaepernick’s on-field performance has slipped noticeably, and according to reports, his showing at training camp has been unimpressive.
After three offseason surgeries, one reason for Kaepernick’s mediocre showing may be a result of his weight loss, which people around the NFL have noticed.
According to reports, Kaepernick lost weight from having to remain inactive following surgeries to his shoulder, knee, and thumb. He lost muscle mass and arrived at workouts looking unlike the sculpted, athletic quarterback who once seemed poised to take over the NFL.
Fox’s Jay Glazer made note of the weight loss when reporting that Kaepernick may not even make the 49ers’ roster this season (emphasis ours).
“Regardless of politics or not, he has a very, very big uphill battle to make this team. I’d be shocked if he’s on the 49ers by the time this season ends. It has nothing to do with political views whatsoever. He lost a ton of weight this offseason, had three surgeries, couldn’t work out, lost that double threat, that size-speed ratio. No political views, he just hasn’t been effective. He’s regressing as a player. I’d be shocked if he’s on this roster by the end of this year. He may not be on it in the next two weeks.”
Sports Illustrated’s Peter King added, “Kaepernick is 10-14 with a pedestrian 83.7 rating in the past two years, and he appears to have lost significant weight — he’d be the thinnest starting quarterback in football, for what that’s worth…. Kaepernick may make [the team], but it would have to be on faith, because he’s shown Kelly little this summer.”
When he showed up to training camp in early August, KNBR’s Kevin Jones reported that Kaepernick’s weight was a big topic of discussion. Kaepernick admitted to not knowing his own weight because he didn’t want to find out.
“To be honest, I don’t know,” Kaepernick said. “I never weighed myself when I was at my lightest because I didn’t want to know.”
Here was Kaepernick looking exceptionally thin in May when he first returned from offseason surgeries:
Though he’s beefed up since, he still looks thin. Here was Kaepernick two weeks ago before a preseason game (the loose-fitting shirt doesn’t help):
Still, it’s a long way from where Kaepernick was at the start of last season:
Or when he posted this to his Instagram in spring of 2015:
While 49ers coach Chip Kelly stuck up for Kaepernick this spring, saying he doesn’t think the weight loss has affected his game, it’s fair to argue otherwise. Part of Kaepernick’s effectiveness stems from his duality as passer with a laser for an arm (he used to be a pitcher in baseball) and his gazelle-like sprints from the pocket.
Offseason surgery could hinder his physical qualities, but the weight loss and loss of muscle may be affecting his overall performance. Fighting for your job while not in peak shape is indeed an uphill battle.
It’s unclear what the next chapter of Kaepernick’s career is. He said he plans to continue sitting during the national anthem until he sees positive change in the country, but whether he continues to do so on the 49ers is a mystery. In the meantime, Kaepernick the football player seems to have his work cut out for him.
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