Kaepernick is right where he should be
October 14, 2016
Sports fodder for a Sunday morning . . .
There aren't many people, inside or outside of the NFL, who believe that Colin Kaepernick is an elite quarterback anymore. His detractors say he can't read defenses, couldn't hit the side of a 747 from 10 yards away, has a slower and more deliberate delivery than your 92-year-old grandpa saying grace at Thanksgiving and is as skittish in the pocket as a newborn kitten after a balloon pops. Well, the greatest player in the history of Nevada Wolf Pack football can prove them all wrong over the next three months. The San Francisco 49ers are finally allowing controversial Kap to get on the field starting Sunday against the Buffalo Bills. Kaepernick has a new contract and a new lease on his NFL life and odds are he's going to make the most of it. Expect the 49ers to win at least six of their final 11 games with Kaepernick at the controls. The 49ers are finally interesting once again.
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Kaepernick's future as a NFL starter all hinges on the next 11 games. Chip Kelly's reputation as an innovative offensive mind is also on the line. The two of them together might save each other's NFL careers. Kelly has never had a quarterback in the NFL as dynamic as Kaepernick. Kaepernick has never been tutored by an offensive mind in the NFL as daring as Kelly. The Kelly-Kaepernick combination could be the second coming of Bill Walsh and Joe Montana in San Francisco. It might revolutionize NFL football. Or it might be a train wreck. Either way, it won't be boring.
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It's been widely assumed that these next 11 games will be Kaepernick's farewell in San Francisco. Don't be so sure. Yes, nothing that has happened over the last year or so would suggest that the two sides want to continue their marriage well into the future. But the 49ers desperately need Kaepernick and Kaepernick, whether he'll ever admit it or not, also needs the 49ers. There are only a handful of teams — Browns, Jets, Denver come quickly to mind — that need a quarterback upgrade as much as the 49ers. The NFL isn't major league baseball, where a dozen or so teams drool over free agent middle inning relievers every off-season. Free agents in the NFL always have very few choices, especially when their careers have been as controversial and rocky as Kaepernick's. The best spot in the NFL for Kaepernick is right where he is.
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What does Cameron Oliver need to do to get some respect from the Mountain West and its media? A year ago the Nevada Wolf Pack center was the most dynamic, unique and explosive player in the conference but was only named to the All-Mountain West third team by the league's coaches. This season, heading into his sophomore year, Oliver was named to the Pre-season first team by the media but the Pre-season Player of the Year honor went to New Mexico's Elijah Brown. There is not a coach in America that would take Brown, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard whose whole game relies on getting to the free throw line, over Oliver, a 6-foot-8, once-a-generation type of player. Oliver's Wolf Pack beat Brown's Lobos in the Mountain West tournament last year. Oliver had 26 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks in the game compared to Brown's 26 points, seven boards, two assists and seven turnovers. Oliver is the no-brainer Pre-Season Player of the Year.
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The conference's media picked the Pack to finish second in the conference this year behind San Diego State. San Diego State won the league last year and should be just as good this year with the addition of Missouri transfer Montaque Gill-Caesar and freshman Jalen McDaniels to go along with returners Trey Kell and Jeremy Hemsley. But they did lose defensive standouts Winston Shepard and Skylar Spencer off last year's team and the Aztecs live and die with defense. We also have a problem with San Diego State getting 23 first place votes while New Mexico received three and Fresno State got one. The Pack did not get even one first place vote. The Wolf Pack was the second best team in the conference last year and this year they are the most improved and deepest team in the league. The Pack should have gotten all four of the first place votes that San Diego State did not get in addition to four or five that the Aztecs did get.
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San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy went insane in the ninth inning against the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday. Bochy used five pitchers in the ninth inning as the Cubs scored four times for a 6-5 series-clinching victory. Three of the pitchers — Derek Law, Will Smith and Sergio Romo — pitched to just one batter. None of the five threw more than six pitches. The whole inning was just so un-Bochy-like. It was as if Dusty Baker was back in the Giants dugout. Why did Bochy even feel the need for a reliever at all, given that starting pitcher Matt Moore had allowed just two hits and two runs with 10 strikeouts over the first eight innings? Moore had tossed 120 pitches but this is October. The Cubs weren't even touching him. Do you think Bochy would have taken Madison Bumgarner out with a 5-2 lead in the ninth?