The Colin Kaepernick/49ers Soap Opera Will Never End.

Colin Kapernick left not just his heart but his game in San Francisco (Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports)

Colin Kapernick left not just his heart but his game in San Francisco
(Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports)

Stepping back on the sports beat for an  update of the San Francisco soap opera  of  “Will Colin Kaepernick Finally Find Happiness Somewhere in the NFL?”   After playing “should-he-stay-or-should-he-go” for most of the off-season,  the Niners neither cut nor traded Kaepernick and guaranteed his $11 million salary.   A few days later trade talks heated up again with the Denver Broncos.   The hold-up this time is the Broncos only want to pay $7 million of Kap’s salary  and want the Niners to pick up the rest.   The Niners don’t see why they should have to pay a player who wants to leave.

I don’t either, but I really don’t care anymore.  The Niners are going to stink either way, so whether Kap stays or goes, it’s not going to make a bad team good and the 49ers are very bad.   They’ve gone from a huge success under Jim Harbaugh to a NFL dead zone under GM Trent Balike and owner John-Boy York.

After last season’s 17-week shitshow, for the first time in eight years of blogging I said nothing about the 2015 edition of San Francisco 49ers, the NFL’s long-running soap opera. This off-season is no exception. There’s an excellent chance by this time tomorrow,  Kaepernick will be on his way out of the city by the bay to become Payton Manning’s replacement as the quarterback of the Broncos.

Whoopie-damn-do. Stay or go.  Does it even matter? The Niners would probably be better with Kap than without it, but nobody wants to keep an unhappy employee around and especially one who’s been angling for a ticket out-of-town for months now.

Even if he stays, there’s a good chance Kap could still be moved if the 49ers draft a qb in next month’s NFL draft.  Because he’s maintained a stony silence, nobody knows for certain what he wants to do. Personally, I believe there were two teams he was best suited for: the Browns with Hue Jackson and the Eagles, before Chip Kelly was fired and became the Niners coach.

Will be your quarterback for $11 million.

The 49ers set the price high on Kap based on his past performance, not how awful he’s been for the past two seasons. Nobody was going to give up a 2nd round pick for him, but the Broncos offering a 4th round pick they didn’t even have was a joke and then a 5th was a bad joke.

The Browns made a better offer, but they wanted Kap to take a big pay cut and he balked at that. There’s no upside going from one bad team to another bad team. The Browns are probably better off with RGIII. He’s another QB whose career was once brimming with potential, but he got injured and went to war with his coach and teammates and lost badly. How many fallen stars does any team really need on the roster? At least Griffin’s not coming off a lousy season and still recovering from surgery.

Kaepernick and his agents gambled their was a hot market out there for his services and could bluff the 49ers into dealing him away. Problem was the team had no incentive to give him away for nothing. The Niners started asking for a high price for damaged goods, negotiated it down to a lower price and walked away from the Browns and Broncos when they couldn’t get the deal they wanted. Donald Trump would approve. Stuck with nowhere to go, Kaepernick’s refusal to take less than the $11 million he had guaranteed was the only smart decision he’s made.

These days $11 million is a lot for a backup, not for a starter. Even now, I’m sure Kap can beat out Blaine Gabbert. Not that the team is any better since they did nothing in free agency. This is a last place team and will continue to be for some time.

It would be nice if Kaepernick realized the best place to revitalize his career is right where he’s at. It would be nice if Chip Kelly could take that rocket arm, that mobility, that athleticism and add some touch, some ability to read defenses, check down to available receivers and the other things Kaepernick should be proficient at by now.

He isn’t and I wonder if he ever will be.    If Kaepernick doesn’t want to try to resuscitate his career with the 49ers, it’s probably going to have to be in Denver or nowhere.   There’s just not a lot of other teams beating down the doors to trade for a guy who looks like he’s been badly rattled and lost all his confidence.

Hang 'em up and move on, Kap. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Hang ’em up and move on, Kap. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

 

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The Refs say “we’re here.” The Browns say “wait ’til next year.”

Heard ya missed us. We’re back!

The NFL is the most successful sports corporation in America.   All the major sports, baseball, basketball, hockey run along similar business models, but football more than any other is run and acts like a corporate entity.  The bottom line is money and power and  with the money the NFL makes it is the unquestioned king of the hill  Every knee  bends and every head bows when the mighty NFL speaks.

This week though, the NFL heard the voice of the commoners as all hell broke loose following a spectacularly bad blown call by the scab referees the league hired to stand in for their real referees.   You don’t need me to tell you how awful the replacement refs were in the Packers/Seahawks debacle on Monday Night Football.   Everyone within earshot of a television heard all about it the next day as the worst case scenario for the NFL came to horrifying life.   The refs screwed up in a way that not even the NFL could cover up for their rank incompetence.   When the Today Show, Morning Joe, and other non-sports programs began to drop names that should only be familiar to Sportscenter viewers that’s not good.  When politicians from union busting Governor Scott Walker to President Obama agree its time to get the real referees back on the field, Commissioner Roger Goodell  had to drop his hardball negotiation position from “take it or leave it” to “what’s it gonna take to get you guys back?”

The NFL is very sensitive to what its image is with the public and these poor saps in stripes were putting the brand in jeopardy with their blown calls, extra time outs and deer-in-the-headlights reaction to large, smelly, 300 lb men screaming and spitting obscenities in their face.   The NFL was getting killed in the press with even ESPN jumping on the pile to pummel the league as greedy bastards who would rather sink the entire season than make 32 teams cough up an extra $100,000 each to cover the locked out refs pay raise.    You won’t find a gathering of more smugly arrogant men than a NFL owner’s meeting, but they aren’t deaf either.   When your bad refs are getting more publicity than  your good players, things have gone too far.   That was the breaking point where enough owners must have pulled Goodell’s coat sleeve and said, “Make the deal and get this done NOW.”

The real deal refs returned Thursday night to a standing ovation from the Baltimore Ravens crowd prior to the game against the hapless Cleveland Browns.   Their return will be scrutinized more than the game itself which was typical of everything that’s bad about the Browns since their former owner Art Modell ditched Cleveland to move the team to–wait for it–Baltimore.

It’s been a long, hard road for Browns fans.

I feel sorry for Browns fans.  They have to be going straight to heaven when they die because they’ve already been through hell.  Between bad owners, bad coaches, bad players, bad teams, it’s been a bad 13 years since the Browns returned.   Every few years it seems like there’s a new owner or another coach and a new face of the franchise, but nothing changes and the sucking never stops.   The NFL is a league where doormats can challenge for Super Bowls if they are run by smart people, get lucky, guess right and follow a plan to be competitive.

None of that seems to work for Cleveland.    There’s really no reason for the Browns to suck for 13 years since their return.  Everyone has had their share of  busted draft picks, incompetent GM’s, absentee owners, lousy coaches, free agents you wish had been free and just plain  bad luck.   The Browns have all this and they keep having it.

It’s hard to believe the Browns will suck forever, but until they don’t they have the misfortune of being bad and boring.    Their defense is short of stars while their best player, cornerback Joe Haden sits out a four game suspension, but they try hard and hit harder.  But bless their little hearts, they’re out there all day because the offense is simply offensive.   The Browns are starting rookies at wide receiver, right tackle, running back and quarterback which is a trial by fire.   One day they may be good, but now they’re simply learning to play together which means this is a work in progress instead of a finished product.

The NFL Network is the league’s in-house television network and it puts out a pretty ragged product.   I don’t think much of it’s “personalities” such as Rich Eisen or “experts” like Deion Sanders and Michael “Mush Mouth” Irvin who anchor the network’s game highlights show.   What’s worse is the package of Thursday games suck hard because the  match-ups usually are games the broadcast networks don’t find all that attractive.    Pro football dominates our collective consciousness on Sunday and Monday.     I love football too and between NBC, CBS and Fox as well as the NFL Sunday Ticket on Direct TV in addition to the NFL Network, I can see every game,  but the Thursday games run the risk of overexposure.

This made the Ravens/Browns game perfect for the NFL Network.   A divisional tilt between the up and coming Ravens and the gritty Browns is the difference between a team that knows it can win and the other that hopes they can keep the score respectable.    The defense did their part, but the Browns inept offense couldn’t finish and the Ravens beat their rival for a ninth consecutive time as the Browns finished the first month of the season with four losses.    That’s all, folks!   The leaves haven’t turned brown yet and the season is already over for the Brownies.

Welcome back refs.  Bye-bye Browns.  Better luck next year.  Again.   Your new owner spent a billion dollars to buy the team.   Next year he can start putting together his own instead of these leftovers that came with the purchase price.   The NFL realized they couldn’t get away with lousy officiating but charging an exorbitant price to watch lousy football for over a decade?   That, they have no problem with at all.