Colin Kaepernick: San Francisco 49ers should bench erratic QB for remainder of season

Colin Kaepernick is not going to be the face of the San Francisco 49ers following the 2015 NFL season. This stark reality is setting in more and more every week, and at this point the franchise would be smart to permanently bench the quarterback as a means to ensure his health.

So why would an NFL franchise be concerned about the health of a player who isn’t likely going to be around long term?

It’s simple, really. San Francisco and Kaepernick structured his contract in such a way that the franchise can cut ties without any financial penalty following the season, with a couple of caveats. First the transaction must occur before April 1 in 2016, and secondly, Kap must be healthy.

The 49ers still owe Kaepernick over $31 million in guaranteed money, per Spotrac, but this sum is only guaranteed for injury. Therefore, if he doesn’t get injured this year and the team is ready to move on in a new direction without him, then the quarterback won’t receive any more money after the 2015 campaign.

San Francisco’s offensive line is quite possibly the worst in the entire league. Kaepernick has managed to stay healthy throughout his career, but he has taken some big licks. Already through seven games, he has been sacked 25 times.

It’s only a matter of time until he is injured, playing under these conditions.

And for those who point to the crappy offensive line as a means to defend Kaepernick’s atrocious play, let’s quickly examine how he’s fared compared to other quarterbacks who have been harassed in similar fashion.

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It’s understood around the league that the Kansas City Chiefs are going nowhere with Alex Smith, who has actually performed better than Kaepernick this year under similar circumstances.

Russell Wilson continues to find ways to make big plays and complete a high percentage of his passes, despite being under more pressure than Kaepernick, and even rookie Marcus Mariota has managed to make big plays on a regular basis facing similar circumstances.

The worst part about Kaepernick’s 2015 performance is that he is missing his receivers often, even when he does have time to throw. During Week 4 he was literally throwing ground balls to his guys, and then on Thursday night in Week 7 he threw one pass so badly off target that it hit a 49ers staff member on the sideline — about 10-15 yards out of play.

Clearly, this isn’t a quarterback trending the right way. If anything, Kaepernick has regressed badly from last year, which was another campaign in which he took steps backwards.

Much of the blame falls to the 49ers for setting him up to fail, as pointed out recently by Boomer Esiason. However, regardless of where the blame lies, one thing is becoming clearer and clearer: Kaepernick isn’t going to be the starting quarterback for San Francisco in 2016.

Therefore, as a way to ensure the franchise isn’t saddled with a huge debt the 49ers should strongly consider taking a play out of Washington’s playbook by benching the quarterback the rest of the season. We all know Blaine Gabbert isn’t going to perform at a high level facing the same pressure Kap has seen, but the season is already lost, so it matters not.

The organization’s biggest concern as it relates to Kaepernick at this point is keeping him healthy. With that in mind, it’s time to make the hard decision to bench him for the rest of the year.