Grant Cohn: Cure for what ails 49ers is to sign Kaepernick right now

The "Follow This Story" feature will notify you when any articles related to this story are posted.

When you follow a story, the next time a related article is published — it could be days, weeks or months — you'll receive an email informing you of the update.

If you no longer want to follow a story, click the "Unfollow" link on that story. There's also an "Unfollow" link in every email notification we send you.

This tool is available only to subscribers; please make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.

Please note: This feature is available only to subscribers; make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.



Kyle Shanahan made a valid point Sunday about his miserable quarterback, C.J. Beathard.

This was just after Beathard committed three turnovers and the 49ers lost by 29 points at home, their fifth loss in a row. Since he replaced the injured Jimmy Garoppolo, Beathard has committed 10 turnovers in four weeks and ruined the 49ers’ chances of winning any games.

A reporter asked Shanahan during his postgame press conference why he continues to play Beathard.

“Because C.J. is the best quarterback we have in our building,” Shanahan explained.

Shanahan’s key phrase, brilliant in a way, is “in our building.” Beathard certainly would be the 49ers’ best option if the world were no bigger than the inside of their facility. He would be the greatest quarterback alive. Shanahan would need to look no further.

But, if Shanahan were merely to leave his office, take a short walk down a hallway, open a door and exit Levi’s Stadium, he would find there’s a whole world outside the building. And a free-agent quarterback who’s better than Beathard.

Colin Kaepernick. Yes, Colin Kaepernick.

The 49ers should re-sign him today. Sign him this minute. It’s a no-brainer. He would solve every short-term problem they have.

Kaepernick would protect the ball better than Beathard. Kaepernick has thrown 30 interceptions in 58 career starts — roughly one pick every other game. Beathard has thrown 13 interceptions in nine starts — more than one per game.

Kaepernick would pass the ball better than Beathard. Kaepernick’s career quarterback rating is 88.9. In 2016, his rating was 90.7. Beathard’s rating this season is 81.3.

Kaepernick would run the ball better than Beathard, and protect himself better, too. Kaepernick is mobile. He ran for 468 yards in just 11 starts in 2016. Beathard is not mobile. He has the mobility of a refrigerator. He has rushed for 60 yards this season, and has been sacked 14 times in four games.

Kaepernick would give the 49ers their best chance to win.

And he would give them a chance to evaluate their roster. The 49ers can’t assess their wide receivers if Beathard doesn’t get them the ball. Can’t assess their offensive linemen if Beathard stands in the pocket like a statue — The Thinker? Can’t assess the team if Beathard keeps committing turnovers and losing every game by himself.

Enough of Beathard. He has no future as an NFL starting quarterback. He is a low-end backup who should ride the bench.

Kaepernick is good enough to play, especially for the 49ers. And they wouldn’t have to trade for him. Wouldn’t have to give up any players or future draft picks. They could sign him to a modest two-year deal. They have more than $36 million in cap space.

If Kaepernick plays well the rest of the season, he could compete next year with Garoppolo during training camp. Kaepernick wouldn’t necessarily win the starting job, but he would help Garoppolo. They would help each other. Competition is good. Beathard can’t compete.

Jim Harbaugh always wanted competition on his team. Made players earn their jobs. That’s part of the reason they were so competitive during games. Shanahan anoints players and eliminates competition. That’s part of the reason his record is 1-14 without Garoppolo.

Signing Kaepernick would be good for Shanahan.

And it would be a brilliant marketing move for the 49ers. This is important. He would make the 49ers, a sports afterthought, one of the biggest stories in the country, as they always should be. They’re one of the five most important franchises in American sports, along with the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Cowboys. The 49ers never should be boring and unwatchable.

But, that’s what they are. Unwatchable. The NFL doesn’t want to put them in Primetime games, mostly because of Beathard. Who wants to watch him play? Levi’s Stadium looked half empty last Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams. It was a pathetic sight.

By virtue of who he is, Kaepernick will pack the stadium full of fans, and the press box full of journalists from CNN, The New York Times, Fox News, the Washington Post, etc. The biggest outlets from all over the country. The 49ers need Kaepernick’s celebrity to make them matter.

And they need his cause. Signing Kaepernick would give the 49ers’ a chance to seem moral. To appear more progressive and enlightened than the rest of the NFL. To support the fight against social injustice in America. To look good.

I’m not saying Kaepernick would give the 49ers a chance to make the playoffs. He wouldn’t. Beathard killed those chances. But, Kaepernick would put the 49ers on track to relevance.

The alternative track — call it the Beathard Express — disappears into a dark tunnel. There may be no light at the end of it. The tracks might just stop in the middle. The train might fly off the rails.

Do the smart thing, Kyle. Think outside the building.

Grant Cohn covers the 49ers and Bay Area sports for The Press Democrat and in Santa Rosa. You can reach him at

Show Comment

Our Network

Sonoma Index-Tribune
Petaluma Argus Courier
North Bay Business Journal
Sonoma Magazine
Bite Club Eats
La Prensa Sonoma
Emerald Report
Spirited Magazine