Grant Cohn: Time for 49ers' Colin Kaepernick to get past the bitterness
We know each other casually. We’ve chatted, but not at any depth. I’m taking a liberty to give you friendly advice. I hope you take it in that spirit.
It’s beginning to look like you’re staying with the 49ers. Don’t fight it. There’s an old expression, “Ride the horse in the direction it’s going.” Your horse is going to Santa Clara, even though you’re looking at the Rocky Mountains. You’re riding in reverse, Colin. That’s the horse’s tail in front of you.
I know you wish you could make the long ride to Denver, but the 49ers and Broncos can’t work out the money to make the trade happen. You’re stuck. Sometimes it’s not so bad to be stuck, not if you read things correctly.
This is what you have to do.
Come to terms with being a 49er. Then hold a press conference in Santa Clara, in that big auditorium in Levi’s Stadium. Arrange it yourself if you have to. Take control of your narrative. This is your life and your story. Prepare an opening statement, something like: “For a while I wanted to be traded, but it’s over. I don’t want to be traded anymore. I want to be a 49er, and I’m committed to this franchise.”
Then, you have to be frank. You have to say, “I lost my way last season. It was a tough situation, and I didn’t handle it well. I wasn’t a good leader or a good teammate, but I want to be a good teammate now. I want to redeem myself. I want to compete for the starting job, want to earn everything I get. If I lose the competition, I want to support Blaine Gabbert the way he always supported me.
“And I want my coaches and teammates to respect me and like me. I don’t want them to answer questions about my attitude every day, or any day. I don’t want to be a distraction or a burden. I don’t want to overshadow the team. No player is bigger than the team. I understand that. I want to help my teammates create a new good thing here. I want to be one of the guys.
“And I want to play for Chip Kelly. I’m dying to play for him. I’ve talked offense with him and I believe he can help me and I can help him. I believe his offense features my strengths and Blaine’s strengths. I really do believe that.”
Colin, make the most of this press conference. Smile. Wear a tie and a jacket for a change. Dress like Peyton Manning. Show it’s a new you. This is business - everything must be as formal as possible because you’re making a new start.
After you give your opening statement, answer questions in a good spirit. Don’t let the P.R. director hurry you off the stage. Stay as long as you can. Any question you get, consider it seriously and answer at length. Show the world there’s a decent, grown-up man in you, a generous man with a good heart.
If you do all this, you’ll find to your surprise the media and the team are still willing to give you a break.
Colin, I’m saying be positive, professional, and adult when you hold the press conference. Most of all, be sincere. You need to feel it. If you don’t feel it, you need to get your heart in the right place so you can feel it.
Move past the bitterness you feel toward Jed York, Trent Baalke and the rest of the 49ers front office. Just let those feelings go - they’re no good to you. They’re in the way.
Getting past that bitterness and whatever bitterness you feel toward the media are what wisdom and maturity amount to. If you need advice, phone Steve Young. He can help you. He’ll embrace helping you. He once had learning to do.
Colin, a young man has to fight for wisdom and maturity every day. I’m fighting that fight and sometimes I’m successful and sometimes I’m not. I’m two months younger than you. We both make mistakes. I know what you’re going through.
Sometimes, wisdom is to embrace what’s offered. At least you have an offer. Make the most of it - it may be your last good chance to play in the NFL.
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.