Kaepernick with the San Francisco 49ers in 2012
|Born:||November 3, 1987|
|Height:||6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)|
|Weight:||230 lb (104 kg)|
|High school:||John H. Pitman|
|NFL Draft:||2011 / Round: 2 / Pick: 36|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|
Colin Rand Kaepernick ( KAP-?r-nik; born November 3, 1987) is a former American football quarterback known for his political activism of kneeling during the National Anthem in protest of police brutality and racism against African-Americans in the United States.
Kaepernick played college football for the University of Nevada where he was named the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Offensive Player of the Year twice and became the only player in NCAA Division I FBS history to amass 10,000 passing yards and 4,000 rushing yards in a career. After graduating, he was selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft. Kaepernick began his professional football career as a backup quarterback to Alex Smith, and became the 49ers' starter in the middle of the 2012 season after Smith suffered a concussion. He then remained the team's starting quarterback for the rest of the season, leading the team to their first Super Bowl appearance since 1994. During the 2013 season, his first full season as a starter, Kaepernick helped the 49ers reach the NFC Championship Game. Over the next three seasons, Kaepernick lost and won back his starting job, with the 49ers missing the playoffs for three years consecutively.
During the 49ers' third preseason game in 2016, Kaepernick began to sit during the playing of the U.S. national anthem prior to games, rather than stand as is customary, as a protest against racial injustice and systematic oppression in the country. The following week, and throughout the regular season, Kaepernick began kneeling instead of standing during the anthem. The actions resulted in a wider protest movement, which intensified in September 2017 after president Donald Trump said that NFL owners should "fire" players who protest the national anthem. Following the season, Kaepernick opted out of his contract and became a free agent, but went unsigned. In November 2017, Kaepernick filed a grievance against the NFL and its owners, accusing them of colluding to keep him out of the league. Kaepernick withdrew the grievance in February 2019 after reaching a confidential settlement with the NFL.
Kaepernick was born in 1987 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to Heidi Russo, who was white. His birth father, who was African-American, separated from Russo before Kaepernick was born. Russo placed Kaepernick for adoption with a white couple named Rick and Teresa Kaepernick. The couple who had two older children, son Kyle and daughter Devon. The Kaepernicks decided to adopt a boy after losing two other sons to heart defects.
Kaepernick lived in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin until age four when his family moved to California. When he was eight years old, Kaepernick began playing youth football as a defensive end and punter. At age nine, he was the starting quarterback on his youth team, and he completed his first pass for a long touchdown. A 4.0 GPA student at John H. Pitman High School in Turlock, California, Kaepernick played football, basketball and baseball and was nominated for All-State selection in all three sports his senior year. He was the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the Central California Conference in football, leading his school to its first-ever playoff victory. In basketball, he was a first-team all CCC selection at forward and led his 16th-ranked team to a near upset of #1 ranked Oak Ridge High School in the opening round of playoffs. In that game, Kaepernick scored 34 points but future NBA player Ryan Anderson of Oak Ridge scored 50 points to lead his team to a victory.
Kaepernick received most of his high school accolades as a baseball pitcher. He received several scholarship offers in that sport but he wanted to play college football. The University of Nevada was the only school to offer him a football scholarship and Kaepernick signed with them in February 2006.
Kaepernick started his college career in 2007 at Nevada as a back-up, playing in 11 of the team's 13 games. He finished the season with nineteen passing touchdowns, three interceptions, and 2,175 passing yards with a 53.8% completion percentage. Kaepernick also added 593 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns as the Nevada Wolf Pack finished 6-7.
As a sophomore, Kaepernick recorded 2,849 passing yards, 22 passing touchdowns, seven interceptions and 1,130 rushing yards and 17 rushing touchdowns. He became just the fifth player in NCAA history to pass for 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 or more yards in a single season. He was named the Humanitarian Bowl MVP despite Nevada losing after having 370 yards passing, three passing touchdowns, two interceptions and adding fifteen yards rushing with a rushing touchdown. At the conclusion of the same, Kaepernick won the WAC Offensive Player of the Year. He was the first sophomore to win this award since Marshall Faulk of San Diego State did in 1992. He was also named first team All-WAC quarterback.
In the 2009 Major League Baseball Draft, Kaepernick was drafted in the 43rd round by the Chicago Cubs. He decided that he wanted to continue to play football at the University of Nevada and chose not to sign with the Cubs.
Kaepernick finished his junior season with 2,052 passing yards, twenty passing touchdowns, six interceptions and 1,183 rushing yards and sixteen rushing touchdowns. Kaepernick led the Wolf Pack to an 8-5 record and a second-place finish in the WAC behind undefeated Boise State. He was named second team All-WAC quarterback for the season.
On November 26, 2010, Kaepernick led his team to a 34-31 overtime victory against the previously undefeated Boise State Broncos, snapping a 24-game win streak that had dated back to the 2008 Poinsettia Bowl. This game was played on Nevada's senior night, the final home game for Kaepernick. Nevada Head Coach Chris Ault would later call this game the "most important win in program history".
Kaepernick ended his senior season with 3,022 passing yards, twenty-one passing touchdowns, eight interceptions and 1,206 rushing yards and twenty rushing touchdowns. He joined Florida's Tim Tebow as the second quarterback in FBS history to have twenty passing touchdowns and twenty rushing touchdowns in the same season. Nevada claimed a share of the WAC title after defeating Louisiana Tech. Kaepernick was named WAC Co-Offensive Player of the Year with Kellen Moore, who won the award in 2009.
Kaepernick finished his collegiate career with 10,098 passing yards, 82 passing touchdowns, 24 interceptions, 4,112 rushing yards and 59 rushing touchdowns. He became the first and only quarterback in the history of Division I FBS college football to have passed for over 10,000 yards and rushed for over 4,000 yards in a collegiate career. He also tied former Nebraska quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Eric Crouch for most career rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in FBS history.
After his senior season at Nevada, Kaepernick was eligible for the 2011 NFL Draft.
On April 29, 2011, the San Francisco 49ers traded up with the Denver Broncos from the thirteenth pick in the second round (45th overall) to select Kaepernick as the fourth pick in the second round (36th overall) at the 2011 NFL Draft. The Broncos received picks 45, 108, and 141 overall in exchange for the 36th overall pick.
In 2012, Kaepernick was initially used sparingly to run certain plays. He scored his first career touchdown in the team's fourth game when he scored on a seven-yard run against the New York Jets. In Week 10, against the St. Louis Rams, Kaepernick replaced Smith in the second half of the game after he suffered a concussion in the first half. Kaepernick completed eleven of seventeen passes for 117 yards and added 66 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown as the 49ers and the Rams ended the game in a 24-24 tie. He got his first NFL start the next game on November 19, during a Monday Night Football game against the Chicago Bears at Candlestick Park. Kaepernick completed 16-of-23 for 246 yards with two touchdowns in a 32-7 win against a highly ranked Bears defense. A quarterback controversy began. Smith was ranked third in the NFL in passer rating (104.1), led the league in completion percentage (70%), and had been 19-5-1 as a starter under Harbaugh, while Kaepernick was considered more dynamic with his scrambling ability and arm strength. Smith was cleared to play the day before the following game, but Harbaugh chose not to rush him back and again started Kaepernick. He remained the starter for the rest of the season and led the 49ers to an 11-4-1 record and a berth in the NFL playoffs.
In his first career postseason start, against the Green Bay Packers, Kaepernick had 263 passing yards, two passing touchdowns, one interception and 181 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns as the 49ers defeated the Packers 45-31. With his performance, he set an NFL single-game record for most rushing yards by a quarterback with 181, breaking Michael Vick's record of 173 in a 2002 regular season game. He also broke the 49ers postseason rushing record, regardless of position and joined Jay Cutler and Otto Graham in both as the only players in NFL history to run for two touchdowns and pass for two others in a playoff game. In the NFC Championship, the 49ers defeated the Atlanta Falcons 28-24 with Kaepernick completing 16-of-21 passes for 233 yards and one touchdown. The team advanced to Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans against the Baltimore Ravens. Kaepernick threw for 302 yards, one passing touchdown, and ran for a touchdown, but the 49ers fell behind early and could not come back, losing by a score of 31-34.
In the season opener of the 2013 season against the Green Bay Packers, Kaepernick threw for a career-high 412 yards and three touchdowns, the first 400-yard game by a 49ers quarterback since Tim Rattay on October 10, 2004. Kaepernick ended the season with 3,197 yards passing, 21 touchdowns, and eight interception, 524 yards rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns and led the 49ers to a 12-4 record and a berth in the NFL playoffs.
In the Wild Card Round, the 49ers played the Green Bay Packers. Kaepernick had 227 passing yards, one passing touchdown, one interception and added 98 rushing yards as the 49ers beat the Packers 23-20. In the divisional round, against the Carolina Panthers, Kaepernick had 196 passing yards, one passing touchdown, 15 rushing yards, and one rushing touchdown as the 49ers beat the Panthers 23-10. In the NFC Championship Game, against eventual Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, Kaepernick had 153 passing yards, one passing touchdown, two interceptions and rushed for 130 yards as the 49ers lost to the Seahawks 17-23, ending the 49ers' season and attempt to return to the Super Bowl.
On June 4, Kaepernick signed a six-year contract extension with the 49ers, worth up to $126 million, including $54 million in potential guarantees, and $13 million fully guaranteed.
On September 17, Kaepernick was fined by the NFL for using inappropriate language on the field. On October 9, he was fined $10,000 by the NFL for appearing at a post-game press conference wearing headphones from Beats by Dre, while the league's headphone sponsor was Bose. In a game against the San Diego Chargers, he ran for a 90-yard touchdown. The 49ers finished the season 8-8 and failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 2010. Kaepernick threw for 3,369 yards with 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He rushed for 639 yards and one touchdown. Following the season, head coach Jim Harbaugh left to coach the University of Michigan.
In 2015, Kaepernick struggled under new head coach Jim Tomsula. A day after a 27-6 collapse at St. Louis in Week 8, Kaepernick lost his starting job to backup Blaine Gabbert for Week 9 against Atlanta. With Gabbert starting as their new quarterback, the 49ers narrowly won 17-16. On November 21, the 49ers announced that Kaepernick would miss the rest of the season because of an injured left shoulder that required surgery. He ended the season with 1,615 yards passing, six passing touchdowns, five interceptions and 256 rushing yards with one rushing touchdown in nine games.
Kaepernick entered the 2016 season competing for starting quarterback position with Gabbert. On September 3, 2016, 49ers head coach Chip Kelly named Gabbert as the starter for the beginning of the 2016 season. Prior to the 49ers Week 6 game against the Buffalo Bills, Kelly announced Kaepernick would start, marking his first start of the season. On October 13, it was announced that he and the 49ers restructured his contract, turning it into a two-year deal with a player option for the next season. He completed 13-of-29 passes, with 187 passing yards, one passing touchdown and 66 rushing yards in the 49ers 45-16 loss to the Buffalo Bills. On November 27, he recorded 296 passing yards, three passing touchdowns and 113 yards rushing in the 49ers' 24-31 loss to the Miami Dolphins. He joined Michael Vick, Cam Newton, Randall Cunningham, and Marcus Mariota as the only quarterbacks in NFL history to record at least three passing touchdowns and 100 yards rushing in a game. In a Week 13 loss to the Chicago Bears, Kaepernick threw a career-low four yards before getting benched for Gabbert. He returned to the starting lineup the following week and threw for 183 yards and two touchdowns in the 49ers' 13-41 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. On December 24, Kaepernick recorded 281 total yards, two passing touchdowns, one interception, one rushing touchdown, and a two-point conversion on the game-winning drive as the 49ers beat the Los Angeles Rams 22-21 to get their first victory on the season with Kaepernick as the starter. For the 2016 NFL season, Kaepernick played twelve games and ended the season with 2,241 passing yards, sixteen passing touchdowns, four interceptions and added 468 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns.
On March 3, 2017, Kaepernick officially opted out of his contract with the 49ers, an option as part of his restructured contract, therefore making him a free agent at the start of the 2017 league year.
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In the 49ers third preseason game of the 2016 season, Kaepernick was noticed sitting down during the playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" as opposed to the tradition of standing. During a post-game interview, he explained his position stating, "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder", referencing a series of African-American deaths caused by law enforcement that led to the Black Lives Matter movement and adding that he would continue to protest until he feels like "[the American flag] represents what it's supposed to represent". In the 49ers' fourth and final preseason game of 2016, Kaepernick opted to kneel during the U.S. national anthem rather than sit as he did in their previous games. He explained his decision to switch was an attempt to show more respect to former and current U.S. military members while still protesting during the anthem after having a conversation with former NFL player and U.S. military veteran Nate Boyer. After the September 2016 police shootings of Terence Crutcher and Keith Lamont Scott, Kaepernick commented publicly on the shootings saying, "this is a perfect example of what this is about". Photos then surfaced of him wearing socks depicting police officers as pigs. In a statement he acknowledged wearing them as a statement against "rogue cops". He maintained that he has friends/family in law enforcement and that there are cops with "good intentions" who protect and serve and he was not targeting all police. Kaepernick went on to kneel during the anthem prior to every 49ers game that season.
After his national anthem protests, Kaepernick pledged to donate one million dollars to "organizations working in oppressed communities." He donated $25,000 to the Mothers Against Police Brutality organization that was started by Collette Flanagan, whose son fell victim to police brutality. In 2018, Kaepernick announced that he would make the final $100,000 donation of his "Million Dollar Pledge" in the form of $10,000 donations to charities that would be matched by celebrities.
Due to his advocacy, the NFL endured an eight percent decline in viewership from fans in the 2016 season with the main reason (cited by 30% of fans in one survey) stemming from player protests. Regarding his protests, fans expressed their concern about Kaepernick and desired that he remained unsigned by teams after his contract with the 49ers ended in 2016 due to his actions.
Also in 2016, Kaepernick founded the "Know Your Rights Camp", an organization which holds free seminars to disadvantaged youths to teach them about self-empowerment, American history and legal rights.
In July 2019, Nike, Inc. released a shoe featuring the Betsy Ross flag called the Air Max 1 Quick Strike Fourth of July trainers. The trainers were designed to celebrate Independence Day. The model was subsequently withdrawn after Colin Kaepernick told the brand he and others found the flag offensive because they associated it with slavery.Joe Scarborough decried Nike's decision as "politically correct madness", saying that the flag should be seen as a symbol of resistance against the British monarchy. Scarborough also felt that this instance of political correctness could help Donald Trump to be re-elected. Charles Taylor of Forbes described Nike's decision as a blunder, noting that no significant number of Americans view the Betsy Ross flag as a racist symbol and that a poll shows that 85% of American millennials like seeing the U.S. flag on Independence Day. Nike's decision to withdraw the product drew criticism from Arizona's Republican Governor, Doug Ducey, who subsequently pulled a US$2 million tax incentive for a Nike factory in the state, and Texas's Republican Senator Ted Cruz.
Following his departure from the 49ers in 2016, Kaepernick went unsigned through the off-season and 2017 training camps, leading to allegations that he was being blackballed because of his on-field political statements as opposed to his performance. Baltimore Ravens Owner, Steve Bisciotti, considered signing Kaepernick during his free agency as a backup to the current Ravens starting quarterback, Joe Flacco. He did not go through with this as he believed the signing would result in heavy backlash and criticism from the general public.
In November 2017, Kaepernick filed a grievance against the NFL, accusing NFL owners of collusion to keep him out of the league. The NFL requested to dismiss the case but was denied by an arbitrator which meant the case would go to trial. On February 15, 2019, it was announced that Kaepernick reached a confidential settlement with the NFL and withdrew the grievance.
Kaepernick was baptized Methodist, confirmed Lutheran, and attended a Baptist church during his college years. Kaepernick spoke about his faith saying, "I think God guides me through every day and helps me take the right steps and has helped me to get to where I'm at." Kaepernick has multiple tattoos about his faith. His right arm features a scroll with the Bible verse Psalm 18:39 written on it. Tattooed under the scroll are praying hands with the phrase "To God The Glory" written on them. To the left of both the scroll and praying hands is the word "Faith" written vertically. His left arm features a Christian cross with the words "Heaven Sent" on it referring to Jesus Christ. Written above and below the cross is the phrase "God Will Guide Me". Written to the left and right of the cross is the Bible verse Psalm 27:3.
In March, Trump claimed during a rally in Kentucky that Kaepernick's inability to find a new team was due to fear that president would unleash a tweet and therefore a PR crisis on whatever team that signed the Super Bowl XLVII participant.
It was reported that NFL owners don't want to pick him up because they don't want to get a nasty tweet from Donald Trump," he said. "Do you believe that? I just saw that. I just saw that.