Colin Kaepernick has started 58 games in his six-year career. It’s quite possible he’ll never add to this figure. Much ink has been spilled and blood vessels popped arguing over the root cause and its fairness. We are no closer to a consensus now than when we started.
The Kaepernick Line, though not scientific, yields a marker in the sand for merit-based arguments. His numbers from last year in five key categories are compared against the field of 2017 starting quarterbacks. His hypothetical rank is then averaged across the line. For instance, if Kaepernick’s replicated production put him 30th in three categories, 20th in one and 15th in another, the line would be 25 (30+30+30+20+15= 125, divided by 5 = 25).
Here is that production:
Adjusted Net Yards/Attempt: 5.92
Team Points/Game in Starts: 18.66
Points Added: -0.7
Before going any further, it seems prudent to point out these areas were not selected with an intention of delivering any data, good or bad. These are simply the five instructive areas to look at when assessing a quarterback. The only goal is to stack Kaepernick up against the rest of the league.
Through nine weeks this year, here’s where he would rank in each:
Colin Kaepernick’s Rank in 2017
Adjusted Net Yards/Attempt: 21th
Team Points/Game in Starts: 22nd
Points Added: 21st
This week’s Kaepernick Line checks in at 20.2, the worst of the season and exactly three points down from the high-water mark. Now, it should be noted that the comparison is against qualified passers (those who have thrown at least 14 passes per team game). Aaron Rodgers and Deshaun Watson are currently qualified, but will not be by season’s end. Others who have come on in recent weeks (Trubisky, Beathard, Stanton) aren’t yet qualified, but will be if they play enough games. It’s unlikely to dip down much lower and is only .6 off from last week’s. It’s becoming abundantly clear that, production-wise, Kaepernick would be a slightly below-average starter.
This is no major revelation and not entirely impressive. But considering the retread quarterbacks being signed instead (Ryan Nassib, Joe Webb, Keith Wenning, etc), it’s a stark reminder of his unmatched acumen among the available options.
Anecdotally, it also feels like we’ve just accepted Kaepernick won’t be signed this year — and likely ever — even though he is good enough to start on several teams. If it hasn’t happened by now, what can possibly change things?
Anyway, that’s the line.