On Colin Kaepernick and His Return to Football Relevance

It’s been a long, long time coming. As expected, a change was going to come sooner than later.

In a losing effort against the Miami Dolphins, Colin Kaepernick reminded us all that he is still a special talent.

The controversial, but wildly talented quarterback tossed a season-high 296 yards. He also threw three touchdowns and chipped in 113 yards on 10 carries. For Kap, it was his best game since Week 1 against the Green Bay Packers of the 2013 season.

He didn’t spend Sunday kissing his biceps like years before, but his performance was good enough for teams to ask about his services for next season. In a league where quarterback play is falling by the wayside, Kap’s performance couldn’t have come at a better time.

This past Sunday against Miami felt like 2012—a time when Kap took the NFL by storm. His rocket arm was on display, his decision-making was commendable, and he ran around the field like a gazelle. For most of the afternoon, the Dolphins, who have had one of the hotter defenses, appeared befuddled in trying to stop Kap.

Conversation about the National Anthem was absent. But, in a unshocking twist, controversy still found its way near the much-maligned quarterback. In an interview, he revealed that he was pro-Fidel Castro in wake of the death of the former Cuban leader. His comments were untimely because the 49ers were playing in Miami, which is home to countless Cuban-born people.

Sunday, he entered a hostile environment and as expected, the boo birds serenaded everyone in the stadium. The atmosphere was like a heel entering a gravel pit fighting for the world championship.

It was the perfect set up for Kaepernick to have a sub-par performance in front of an apathetic crowd. Stemming from his recent play, you certainly could have wondered which Kap would show up to Hard Rock Stadium. Kaepernick, who's off field persona has been as bold as his fashion statement reflected, carried that same tone on to the field this weekend.

Sunday was so far and away from how the 2016 NFL season began for him.

The trepidation of inconsistent throws, nagging injuries, and bad reads were nonexistent. He operated Chip Kelly’s offense efficiently. For the quarterback with a penchant to stare receivers down and not distribute the ball evenly, nine different players caught a pass, which included every skill group on the offense.

He spent the offseason rehabbing his non-throwing shoulder, hand and knee. Due to this array of injuries, which set him back physically, he began the year as the backup quarterback to Blaine Gabbert. To add insult to injury, his relationship with management began to sour and he requested a trade. While a trade never occurred, the then back-up quarterback was busy becoming a social activist, and instantly became the talk of the sports world for taking a knee during the national anthem.

While some celebrated his protest, the disdain for the quarterback that so many others held grew as the weeks went on. From gracing the cover of Time Magazine to making headlines in worldwide of sports, the conversation around him was not related to football.

During the ordeal, what got lost the was that once upon a time Kap was a damn good quarterback. A quarterback who led his team to back-to-back NFC title games only coming a few yards short of bringing the Lombardi Trophy to Santa Clara.

While he’s become further involved in social matters, don’t think that’s why his play under center faltered. He’s been hindered by coaching changes, injuries, and the loss of some amazing skill players.

The decline of Kap was a collective effort, it wasn’t solely his fault. Prior to this year, he operated in an offense that wasn't tailored for his skillset. Coupled with that, the front office didn't replace the players who left via free agency. While the playmakers of the 49ers offense are somewhat missing in action, this weekend was a throwback performance of sorts. Will he sustain his success, or will he transform back into the inconsistent quarterback that we've witnessed? Confidence is everything when playing quarterback and his most recent performance should induce a heavy dose of it.

As the season nears the end, the story of Colin Kaepernick has reverted back to where it started and that’s the game of football. His quest to implement a revolutionary change may have ruffled some feathers, but whether you hate him or love him, the quarterback that enamored fans upon his arrival years ago was on full display on a Sunday afternoon in Miami, Florida.

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