The first time Colin Kaepernick came off the bench in his NFL career, he took over for an injured 1st round quarterback, and led the 49ers to the Super Bowl.
Four years later, Kaepernick is once again coming off the bench to replace a 1st round quarterback, but this time, the circumstances have changed.
The 49ers are no longer dominant like they were with Jim Harbaugh back in 2012, no, these 49ers might be one of the worst organizations in all of football right now, and Kaepernick is no longer an unknown player, but instead he’s become one of the most recognizable athletes in all of professional sports today.
Not so much for what he’s done on the field, no, that’s why he’s on the bench in the first place, but rather for his stance (no pun intended) on kneeling during the National Anthem.
That aside, Sunday is an opportunity for Kaepernick to resurrect a once soaring career that saw him quickly become one of the faces of the league. It’s also a chance for all football fans to see if a QB like Kaepernick can succeed in Chip Kelly’s offense, which seems to be built for his skill set.
For starters, Kaepernick inherits an offense that ranks 8th in the league in rushing yards per game (121.4) and a running back in Carlos Hyde who is tied for the most rushing touchdowns on the season with six.
This is Chip’s strength, the running game, and it was a staple of what made the Harbaugh 49ers great (aside from having a killer defense).
In the passing game however, the 49ers are dead last, a far cry for a franchise that was once lead by passers like Brodie, Montana, Young, and Garcia.
This is the mess Kaepernick steps into. It’s a chance to revive a career with a city that still loves him and thinks of him as the face of the franchise. It’s also in a bigger picture, an opportunity to showcase to the rest of the league that he hasn’t declined in skills and can still be the dangerous threat that helped lead the 49ers to two straight conference title games and a Super Bowl in just his first three seasons in the league.
So much is at stake for Colin Kaepernick right now, and it starts Sunday at Buffalo, only this time, the cameras won’t just be on for his anthem protest, but for the rest of the game as he takes the field for the first time this season as the starting QB for the 49ers.