Following the 49ers’ one-sided 28-0 victory over the Rams late Monday night, reporters got to ask Colin Kaepernick about Trent Dilfer’s comments from ESPN’s NFL Countdown.
If you missed those comments, they’re worth watching, if only to see Randy Moss stare daggers through Dilfer:
The entire rant is somewhat questionable, as it attempts to place the importance of football on a higher pedestal than the societal issues Kaepernick is attempting to highlight. This might very well be because Dilfer is essentially speaking on behalf of San Francisco GM Trent Baalke.
But Dilfer’s most questionable point was probably when he brought up Kaepernick’s role on the team. According to Dilfer, the role of the backup is to be quiet at all times:
“No matter how passionate you are, no matter how much of a burden you have (sic) for a social issue, you don’t let it get in the way of the team. The big thing that hit me through all of this is that this is a backup quarterback, whose job is to be quiet, and sit in the shadows, and get the starter ready to play week 1.
Yet he chose a time where all of a sudden he became the center of attention, and it has disrupted that organization, it has caused friction, and it’s torn at the fabric of the team. Although I respect what he’s doing, and I respect that passion and burden that he has for this issue, a massive issue, I do not respect the fact that he put himself and his stance above his team.”
So how did Kaepernick respond when asked about Dilfer’s comments Monday night?
That’s the gist, and here’s the relevant portion of a longer transcript via the Mercury News:
-Q: Did you see Trent Dilfer’s comments about you yesterday and if you did, what did you think about them?
-KAEPERNICK: I just heard briefly about it. But I think that’s one of the most ridiculous comments I’ve heard.
The fact that you say, ‘You’re a back-up quarterback, stay in your place’… that’s an issue.
To me, you’re telling me that my position as a back-up quarterback and being quiet is more important than peoples’ lives.
I would ask him to really have a conversation with the families of people that have been murdered and see if he still feels that way.
Because I’d bet you he doesn’t. Just because he hasn’t experienced that type of oppression.
-Q: Where do you think he’s coming from on this?
-KAEPERNICK: I’m not sure. That’s something that I hope he goes home and really thinks about what he said and how it impacts not just me but how it impacts people whose lives are affected by these issues on a daily basis.
-Q: Do you welcome the criticism you’ve gotten on this if it gets people talking?
-KAEPERNICK: Yeah. Nothing’s ever been done without criticism. Every great change, every great… whether it’s revolution or evolution of things… there’s always criticism of it. And there’s always that, ‘I don’t like change’ kind of mentality.
But you have to be able to take that and say you know what in the long run they’ll see what’s going on, they’ll see what’s right, and they’ll understand.
As this story has played out, the one thing that’s become apparent is how impressive Kaepernick’s perspective is on his actions and goals. Dilfer, on the other hand, seems to be coming at it from the cliched position of “don’t cause a distraction, which can be bad for the team.” What real, true distractions has Kaepernick caused? Players have had to answer questions in press conferences? They always have to answer questions from the media; it’s a stretch to think this is somehow more taxing. And as for within the locker room, it’s not like the 49ers are in positional group meetings during the week debating national anthem protocols instead of blitz pickups.
Kaepernick’s response called Dilfer’s point ridiculous, which is certainly the sound bite. But he followed it up by encouraging Dilfer to broaden his experiences and consider what others are going through. To listen.
Thankfully Kaepernick doesn’t take his cues on when to speak from Trent Dilfer. If he spoke out based solely on his position on the depth chart, we’d be losing an insightful voice on important issues.