Colin Kaepernick hasn’t seen an NFL field in six years, but the former quarterback is still working out in hopes of making a potential comeback in 2022, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The 34-year-old Kaepernick, best known as a civil-rights activist since his polarizing departure from professional football, posted video of himself throwing on a practice field Thursday. Minutes later, Schefter reported the former 49ers star “wants to play” and is “ready to play” for any team with a QB vacancy.
Kaepernick has hinted at staying in NFL shape in recent years, while focusing much of his work on nonprofit and civil-rights projects, including a newly launched Autopsy Initiative for families of victims of “police-related” deaths. He hasn’t played since the 2016 season, however, his sixth and final year with the 49ers.
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NFL commissioner Roger Goodell openly encouraged teams to sign Kaepernick prior to the 2020 season, as the league pursued new racial-justice initiatives and acknowledged Kaepernick’s previous efforts to raise awareness of related issues. But that came after years of conflict between the QB and NFL. The league notably reached a confidential settlement with Kaepernick in 2019, after Kaepernick alleged in a grievance that team owners colluded to keep him out of the NFL following his controversial national anthem protests starting in 2016. Later in 2019, the NFL organized a workout for Kaepernick to audition for interested teams, but the QB withdrew from the event just beforehand as a result of concerns over the NFL’s stipulations.
It’s unclear if any teams would consider signing Kaepernick in 2022, even though several clubs were reportedly intrigued at adding the QB two years ago. At this point in his career, he’d likely enter as little more than competition for a backup role.
A second-round pick of the 49ers in 2011, Kaepernick first emerged as a second-year successor to Alex Smith, showcasing dual-threat talent during San Francisco’s run to Super Bowl XLVII in 2012. He threw 21 touchdowns and just eight interceptions, to go along with 524 rushing yards, in his first full year as the 49ers’ starter the following year. He played just one more full season for San Francisco, however, moving on and off the bench from 2015-16 before opting out of his contract in 2017.