Grant Cohn: Does 49ers' Colin Kaepernick get the picture about where he stands?
That’s my new favorite game. It’s similar to “Where’s Waldo?” But instead of searching a picture book for a world-traveler wearing a striped shirt and a beanie, you search 49ers.com for pictures of Colin Kaepernick wearing a black shirt and a beanie during offseason workouts.
Like Waldo, Colin is hard to find. You might miss him if you don’t peruse each picture closely. I’ve been playing the game all day, and I’ve spotted him just eight times in the 656 photos 49ers.com has posted from recent practices this offseason.
Want to play with me?
Let’s start with the first photo gallery 49ers.com posted, the one called, “49ers Begin Offseason Workout Program.” Picture No. 1 shows Tony Jerod-Eddie, Mike Purcell and Kaleb Ramsey pushing sleds on the grass in front of a fence. Is that Colin peaking his head over the fence? Not as far as I can tell. No sign of him yet.
Next, we see NaVorro Bowman running by himself. We see Arik Armstead pushing a giant tire in which Kaepernick doesn’t appear to be hiding, although it’s dark in there. Hard to know for sure.
We see players running as they pull long, heavy chains attached to their waists across the ground. And we see players lifting weights after practice.
No sign of Colin.
In the next photo gallery, we see a picture of Glenn Dorsey who tore his ACL last season. We see him rehabbing on the side field. And we see another picture of him, a close-up of his face. A proud 49er even though he’s injured and can’t practice.
Still no sign of Colin.
Next gallery, we see Blaine Gabbert walking to practice as the sun sparkles on his face and he smiles. Happy Gabbert. He’s wearing a backward hat. A few pictures later, we see Serious Gabbert practicing his play-action fake, and then we see him throwing a football. We see him with his hands on his hips. Gabbert looking at the camera. Gabbert jumping in the air. Gabbert standing in the pocket. Gabbert scanning the field. Gabbert picking his nose (not really).
We see a lot of Gabbert. The creators of this game bombard you with the blond-haired quarterback.
But where’s Colin?
In slide 45, we see a beautiful picture of practice-squad wide receiver Dres Anderson watching a pass as it flies into his hands. Anderson is the focus of the photo, but if you want to see Colin you have to look past Anderson. Anderon is a distraction in the “Where’s Colin?” game. You’ve been playing too long to fall for that stuff.
If you look closely at the right edge of the photo, you’ll see a blurry figure standing behind another blurry figure. The blurry figure in back of the first blurry figure is Colin. That’s where Colin is. You can see his beanie, his beard, his nose, most of his chest, part of his left forearm and a sliver of his left thigh.
Fun game, right?
Let’s go to another gallery, the one called, “49ers Continue Offseason Practice.” Go to slide 66. You’ll see a picture of Gabbert handing the ball off to Carlos Hyde. Directly behind Hyde, you can spot Colin’s beanie, his nose, the back of his shoulders and his right foot.
Now you’re getting the hang of this. You have to search the background, have to search through the blurry faces that weren’t supposed to be in the shot. The extras. That’s where the Niners are hiding Colin.
But why are the Niners hiding Colin? What does his absence from the pictures mean about his future with the team?
I think his absence is symbolic. I think the Niners want him to fade into the background, drop off the edge.
I bet the Niners want Colin to lose the quarterback competition. I think the front office is tired of him and his teammates are tired of him, too. I think the Niners want Gabbert to be the starting quarterback and the face of the franchise. That’s why he’s hogging all those photo opportunities.
And I think the 49ers want Colin to be the third-stringer. As a third-string quarterback, the Niners could de-activate Colin every game and save the weekly $125,000 roster bonuses they’d have to pay him.
I think the Niners want to embarrass Colin. Want to make an example out of him. Want to show the rest of the team what happens to a player who doesn’t go along with the program, a player who demands a trade.
Grant Cohn writes sports columns and the “Inside the 49ers” blog for The Press Democrat’s website. You can reach him at email@example.com.