Chip Kelly: Colin Kaepernick ‘Never Was a Distraction’ and ‘Can Help You Win’

Bryan Brandom
(Photo: Getty Images)

By now we’ve heard just about every excuse possible for NFL teams not extending a contract to free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick: “He’s a distraction“; “He’s not good enough”; “He’s too good“; “He doesn’t want to play football.”

Now his last coach, Chip Kelly, has called bullsh*t on each of those excuses.

Kelly, who vehemently defended Kaepernick’s right to protest the killing of innocent African Americans, said the quarterback’s decision to kneel during the national anthem in the 2016 season was not a distraction in the San Francisco 49ers clubhouse.

He told ESPN:

Kap was awesome.

At the beginning of the year, he made a stance in terms of what he believes is right. We recognized and supported his ability to do that. But he never brought that into the locker room. We had a meeting the day after the Green Bay game that he did it in the preseason, and he explained to all the players his thought process and the mindset of what he was doing. There were some players that agreed with him and there were some players that didn’t agree with him. But after that point, we heard from the outside about what a distraction it is, except those people weren’t in our locker room and it never was a distraction. And Kap never brought that and turned it into a circus or whatever people think.

[He] came to work everyday extremely diligent in terms of his preparation, in terms of his work ethic in the weight room, in terms of his work ethic in the meeting room.

I really enjoyed Kap. I’ve talked to Kap maybe three or four times since we both left San Francisco. I know he’s working out hard in New York now. I think he’s a really good person and a really good player, and I really enjoyed coaching him.

This from the guy who infamously traded team favorites LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson from the Philadelphia Eagles for being distractions.

In 11 starts and one relief appearance last season, Kaepernick took care of the football and made plays with his legs, throwing 16 touchdowns to just four interceptions, and rushing for 468 yards and two more scores—certainly better than the numbers some QBs put up last year.

And Kelly thinks Kaepernick will be ever better this year.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter asked the former 49ers head coach what he’d tell teams interested in signing Kaepernick this offseason.

He responded:

Literally what I just said for the last two minutes. I think people that aren’t in there … when you’re not there, it’s easy to speculate on what it’s like, but he is zero distraction.

I like Kap a lot. He’s a really good person. And he really wants to win and he’s highly competitive. He’s got a real good physical skill-set to play the position and has played it at a really high level.

I also don’t think he played at his top level last year because he was coming off three surgeries. I think the Kap this year will be better than the Kap last year…

I would tell anybody that he’s zero distraction and a really talented player who can help you win.

This should put to rest all the criticisms of Kaepernick noted above, but I have a feeling it won’t, because they’re not truly why NFL teams are staying away.

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