Colin Kaepernick got an opportunity to showcase himself for NFL teams on Saturday, and the Detroit Lions were in attendance.
If Colin Kaepernick was going to get an opportunity to play or have a real showcase for NFL teams, his former head coach with the 49ers (and current University of Michigan head coach) Jim Harbaugh would’ve been an easy candidate to provide it. If Harbaugh ever returned to the league as a coach, Kaepernick might have gotten a chance that way. On Saturday, a chance came in a different way.
Kaepernick got a chance to throw at halftime of Michigan’s spring game, and NFL teams were in attendance. According to John Niyo of The Detroit News, the Detroit Lions’ pro scouting department made the short trek to Ann Arbor to check out Kaepernick. And as noted by Lions Wire, the radio broadcast of the game mentioned the presence of unspecified Lions personnel in the press box.
Could the Lions consider signing Colin Kaepernick?
The reasons Kaepernick has not played in the NFL since the 2016 season feel obvious and not necessarily fair or good, but this is not the space to dive deeply into them. The bottom line is he is five seasons removed from taking an NFL snap, and he’s now 34 years old (35 in November). Years of working out, posting said workout clips in public forums and saying he’s ready to go don’t land as that meaningful anymore, regardless of the broader reasons he hasn’t gotten a shot.
All it would take is one team to give Kaepernick a chance, and he’s apparently open to being a backup. But as hinted at by ESPN.com from Saturday’s event, there are extra elements with the former Super Bowl starter.
Kaepernick was invited to Michigan by coach Jim Harbaugh, who mentored Kaepernick with the San Francisco 49ers, and was an honorary captain for the spring game. He was joined by producer Spike Lee, who is filming a documentary on Kaepernick as he navigates a job hunt for another spot on an NFL roster.
Signing Kaepernick means embracing what that comes with, right or wrong and whatever the appropriate adjectives might be (scrutiny, attention, etc.). For someone who won’t be the starting quarterback, certainly immediately and maybe never, that will be too much for a lot of teams to even consider bringing him in.
However, the Lions have a formula that might make them a nice fit for Kaepernick. Even only one year in, head coach Dan Campbell is laying the foundation for a strong culture. With the unimpressive Tim Boyle and David Blough re-signed behind Jared Goff, their quarterback depth chart is also not that good.
But even for the Lions, there would be a potential elephant in the room. They will be on “Hard Knocks” this year. If Kaepernick was still around he’d automatically be a top storyline for the HBO cameras, and naysayers would automatically say he’d be a serious distraction.
Signing Kaepernick is a decision that goes above the football department, and any assessment of what he could contribute on the field.
If the front office and coaching staff wanted to give Kaepernick a chance, Lions owner Sheila Ford Hamp would seem to land as one of the owners in the league who’d be most receptive to the idea. But the odds Kaepernick lands in Detroit, or anywhere in the NFL frankly, remain remote.