Chip Kelly: ‘No question’ Colin Kaepernick can win at NFL level
Chip Kelly only spent one season as Colin Kaepernick’s coach with the San Francisco 49ers, but he got to know the quarterback well enough to be certain of one thing — Kaepernick is committed to football.
Kelly spoke with Michael Rosenberg of The MMQB for a feature on Kaepernick, and the former NFL coach said he is unsure of why Kaepernick remains a free agent. With 32 teams and at least 64 active quarterbacks on every roster, Kelly feels there is no reason for Kaepernick to be unemployed.
“Do I think he is one of the top 64 quarterbacks in the world? There is no question,” Kelly said. “Does he have the ability to play quarterback on a winning team in the NFL? There is no question.
“There are 32 individual groups that make decisions on what is best. If you’re not part of those 32 teams, it’s very difficult to know what is going on.”
Coming from a guy who seemingly gave Blaine Gabbert every chance to beat out Kaepernick in San Francisco, that says a lot. Although, Kelly suggested Kaepernick sitting early in the season last year was more about health than anything, noting that he believes the 29-year-old “is going to be better next year” because he will be healthier.
Kelly said he is unsure if Kaepernick remains unsigned because of his controversial political stances, but he insists the national anthem protest never once created a distraction for the 2016 Niners.
“There was zero distraction,” he said. “He met with the team immediately after [his first protest]. He met with the other team leaders. He explained his position and where he was coming from. And literally, that was it. Colin was focused on football. He was all about the team and trying to help us win.
“When Colin is with us, he is 100 percent football. There’s not, ‘Hey, Coach, I don’t have time for this.’ That was never him. [The protest] never affected how he worked or what our workplace was like. And that’s a credit to Colin.”
One report claims Kaepernick has not found work because he needs to lower his expectations. Many people — including this star NFL defensive back — believe Kaepernick has been blacklisted by teams. In reality, Kaepernick’s political viewpoints are probably a factor, but teams would gladly overlook them if he was a good enough player.