There were a handful of questions flying around regarding the Buffalo-49ers game this Sunday – mostly centred around one player.
Will Colin Kaepernick take over at QB? Will his afro be able to fit into a helmet? Will everybody still be upset about him sitting down during the National Anthem? The answer to all of these was a resounding yes.
Kaepernick’s reappearance was not without its fair share of tension. Some fans showed up to root for Team USA, some showed up to show their support for Kaepernick. People were wearing shirts with Kaepernick in gun crosshairs, there was a Black Lives Matter rally outside one gate, and there was even a pro-Kaep banner flown via plane all over the place.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) October 16, 2016
On one hand, Kaepernick standing up to a cause bigger than him and risking his image (and maybe even his life) is admirable, even though the means he is doing it is arguably disrespectful to millions of Americans. On the other hand, Kaep opened up the floodgates to the American racial and political tension and it is likely no 49ers game will ever be the same as long as he is on the team.
With so much hubbub about Kaepernick sitting during the National Anthem, people almost forgot that the majority of the people in the stadium wanted to see the Bills and 49ers play – and the home fans were appeased with a 45-16 rout in favour of Buffalo.
The focus of the game quickly shifted from Kaepernick being the downfall of America as we know it, to Kaepernick trying to lead an otherwise awful team to victory. Take away the chaos off the field, Kaepernick is still a pretty good quarterback. Let’s not forget that he led the 49ers out of nowhere to Super Bowl XVII against the Ravens, where they ultimately lost 34-31. This was his second year in the NFL, and things have been pretty rough since then.
His welcome back event was nothing like Tom Brady’s with the Patriots, and fans certainly weren’t chanting his name throughout the game. Given the situation, Kaepernick played a pretty decent game. He went 13 for 29 for 187 yards with 1 touchdown. Kaepernick also ran for 66 yards, which is impressive for your average quarterback. Compared to the Bills’ QB, Tyrod Taylor, he didn’t do too bad. Taylor went 17 for 26 for 179 yards with 2 touchdowns.
— Rob Lowder (@Rob_Lowder) October 16, 2016
Colin Kaepernick just tossed a TD pass. Racism is officially over.
— Fake SportsCenter (@FakeSportsCentr) October 16, 2016
From a psychological perspective, Kaepernick had some of the worst circumstances going into this. Not only has he been immersed in his own personal media controversy, death threats, and organizational pressure, he is also playing an away game on the other side of the country against a much better team. To be able to get into the zone or at the very least not throw a single interception all game while people in the stadium are foaming out of the mouth screaming obscenities or threats takes a certain kind of mental fortitude.
“I don’t understand what’s un-American about fighting for liberty and justice for everybody.” -Colin Kaepernick pic.twitter.com/wfs48uA6YY
— RollingOut (@RollingOut) October 16, 2016
Luckily, most of the beating the 49ers took happened on the defense. The Bills scored 24 points in the first 3 quarters, and then 21 in the 4th. Most of the fans that were protesting Kaepernick started pouring out of the stadium before the game ended to get back to their cars after the 3rd quarter to avoid the New York traffic.
— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) October 17, 2016
The 49ers are now 1-5, but at least Kaepernick isn’t proving to be as much of a deadweight on the sidelines as he is an effective player on it. The problem is that the 49ers just don’t have the offense or defense to be a threat to a team like the Bills, or later in their schedule, the Saints, Cardinals or Patriots.
The 49ers play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Levi’s Stadium next week, and this should be a pretty manageable game. This one could go either way, as both teams are almost mirror images of each other. Both have a decent quarterback in Winston and Kaepernick, but the rest of their team is subpar.
The 49ers need a win, but the Buccaneers will be coming off their BYE week well-rested and ready to rumble.