Look, I’m with you to a point. Austin Davis stinks. To be honest, when I first heard about it, I sort of recognized the name, thought it sounded a lot like a Rams-type quarterback, and then discovered he not only played for the Rams, but also the Browns. So, you know, a real who’s who of the National Football League.
Is Colin Kaepernick a better NFL quarterback than Austin Davis? No question. Absolutely. How much better is up for debate, but considering both were unemployed to this point, I think it’s a pretty damning indictment of Kaepernick’s abilities.
Look, if Kaep is actually, truly, a starting-calibre NFL quarterback, then he’d already be signed by now. That’s the bottom line. You can start to compare him to all the other backups in the league right now, and note how much better he is than most of them, but that’s a separate argument. When you focus on him just being a backup, then yes, he’s being run out of the league because of his protests last year. It means that all the scrutiny, the distraction, the unrest among a certain (sizeable) segment of that particular team’s fanbase, isn’t worth the signing of a backup quarterback.
Like it or lump it, teams in the NFL hate distractions. They want to focus on the next game. They don’t want to spend all week, every week, fielding questions about a backup quarterback. They don’t want to be flooded with calls, e-mails, Tweets, and whathaveyou about a guy a lot of people hate. It’s not a matter of Kaepernick answering questions; it’s about the rest of the team answering those same questions, or questions ABOUT a guy who’s not even playing.
It’s the same reason why Percy Harvin was unloaded for pennies on the dollar, not long after the Seahawks traded a ton to get him and paid him a ton to keep him. If the Seahawks got tired of the circus that was The Percy Harvin Experience, and he was at one time an MVP candidate, why should we think the Seahawks would want to deal with The Colin Kaepernick Experience?
Is it fair? Absolutely not. Protesting the National Anthem and standing up for his political beliefs was actually the first thing Colin Kaepernick ever did that I liked. I always had him pegged as a pretty big douchebag, kissing his muscles and all that after touchdowns. The fact that he played for the 49ers, back when the 49ers were elite (and the Seahawks’ biggest rival), obviously helped fuel my hate. But, his actions last year – not just sitting for the anthem, but being open and honest with his reasons, and discussing with various veterans a more respectful way to protest what was going on in America by kneeling for the anthem, and the fact that he donates so much of his money to good causes, has really changed the perception of Kaep for a lot of people, myself included. It’s why so many in the media are outraged by his unemployment, and why we keep getting all these articles about how stupid this all is.
The fact of the matter is, Colin Kaepernick DOES deserve to have a job in the NFL. But, you know, he made his bed and now he’s got to sleep in it. He knew how people would react! Hell, all he needed to do was look back to the 90’s when Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf refused to stand for the anthem due to his religious beliefs. And that was in a time before 9/11, when we didn’t have the type of religious intolerance of Muslims that we do now. That was also way before the Internet exploded, and before social media was able to turn every single thing into a MAJOR ISSUE. Abdul-Rauf was never able to live that down.
The NFL is the biggest sport in America, which means that it has the largest swath of fans. Things get skewed because most of the voices in the media trend liberal, but the vast majority of the NFL fanbase – and many of the players in the league itself – are ultra conservative. Kaepernick HAD to have known this, which is why he was so brave in his stance, but he’s also a fool if he thought it would just blow over, or it wouldn’t have an effect on his future employment.
On top of that, it’s not the Seahawks’ responsibility to take on the role of all that is right and just in this league. Everyone keeps coming back to this thing where the Seahawks choose to employ Frank Clark (who is at least DV-adjacent), but spurned Kaepernick (someone trying to affect real change in society), but I don’t know what to tell you. Why are you surprised that the Seahawks are acting like every other NFL team? The Seahawks are in the business of winning football games, period. They’re not in the business of signing every good-character person out there. This isn’t a charity. If they feel they have a better chance of winning with Austin Davis on the roster over Colin Kaepernick – taking into account ALL issues, and not just which one of the two is better in a vacuum – then the Seahawks have also made their own bed, haven’t they?
I think we can all agree on one issue: if the Seahawks are forced into playing their backup quarterback for an extensive amount of time this year, they’re fucked regardless.
I’ll admit, I was tantalized by the idea of Kaepernick stepping in there for Russell Wilson, should the unthinkable happen and we’re forced into that situation. He seems like a guy who could fit in well with this offense. We could even potentially run MORE zone read plays than we do right now (as the team is clearly scaling back on that, as Wilson gets more comfortable in the pocket).
But, take a step back and really think about it. If Wilson gets injured, it’s almost a given that the reason is because our offensive line is atrocious. Now, recall when Kaepernick was still an effective quarterback in this league: it’s when he had that top notch O-Line. When the 49ers started chipping away at that, due to injuries or retirement, Kaepernick’s play suffered accordingly. But, he’s NEVER been behind an O-Line THIS bad. Obviously, the fact that he’s mobile is a big help in this regard, but his decision-making is suspect when he’s under pressure. Granted, his TD/INT ratio last year was solid, but he was also playing it VERY safe. And, in spite of that, the 49ers were still largely ineffective on offense, with the likes of Chip Kelly at the helm running the offense.
All of that is independent of Austin Davis, of course. If we’re in agreement that Kaepernick would struggle behind this Seahawks O-Line, we’re overwhelmingly in agreement that Davis would be the God Damned Worst, but that’s where all the other issues come into play.
I would also argue there are a couple of other things going on that are more Seahawks-related than anything else. First, we don’t know the cost of bringing in Davis. Is he earning less money than Kaepernick would’ve earned? A story broke saying that the Seahawks and Kaepernick were equal in their money offering/demands. Well, just because they were on the same page on the money issue doesn’t mean that Davis and Kaepernick were on the same page. Maybe Davis is making a lot less! That absolutely factors into this thing, when you consider the Seahawks’ salary cap is right up against it. We need to save money for injuries, as well as potential cuts at the end of Training Camp, when the Seahawks might be in the market to boost their depth elsewhere.
There’s also this other issue that might be crazy, but would fit in with what the Seahawks have done in the past. Trevone Boykin is still on the roster. In spite of his off-season transgressions, I wonder if the Seahawks still like his potential as a backup on this team. Signing Colin Kaepernick is a VERY strong indicator that he’s going to be your #2, end of story. Signing Austin Davis, however, leaves open the possibility that Trevone Boykin is able to fend him off and keep his status as this team’s #2. When you consider how this team gave Russell Wilson every opportunity to win the starting job back in 2012, I think it’s a strong possibility that they’re doing everything they can to have Boykin win the #2 job. Why? More team control, much cheaper contract, potential for a higher ceiling if he reaches his potential.
My thinking is, there is VERY little (if any) guaranteed money on the Davis deal. My hunch is that the Seahawks will end up sticking with Boykin when they cut down to 53 players (barring injury, of course). This brings up a question of whether or not Kaepernick is better than Boykin, to which I’d say it’s too soon to tell. What we know right now is that Boykin is a lot cheaper, and offers a similar skillset as far as being mobile is concerned. Plus, Boykin has the advantage of having a year in our system, whereas Kaepernick would have to learn a brand new offense. Let’s save any more analysis on this issue for another time, if and when Boykin actually has the #2 job.