Look, I am fully on board with the “it’s dumb that Colin Kaepernick isn’t in the league when teams are signing scrubs” viewpoint. But there’s a large chasm between Colin Kaepernick is better than most backups, and “the key piece of evidence about injustice is Garoppolo’s contract.”
Jimmy Garoppolo, like most quarterbacks that happen to become the next to be touted as the highest paid QB, had good timing. (And, by the way, a portion of that is injury-only guaranteed, just like Colin Kaepernick’s contract was–remember when he got a reported 6-year, $110 million deal just four years ago?) Garoppolo is an upcoming free agent, didn’t start many games behind Tom Brady, and just got traded to San Francisco. The alternative, and a path that the 49ers did not want to go down, was franchising him and going the Kirk Cousins route.
Now, to that graphic. You can come up with stats to say what you want. Let’s break down their last 6 games.
- Jimmy Garoppolo was traded mid-season and had no training camp with the team and started a few weeks later, Kaepernick was there all season;
- That 6 games was really 5 for Garoppolo, he came in at the end of a game in the final minute when C.J. Beathard got hurt;
- Which means that, in yards passing per start, Garoppolo was at over 300 while Kaepernick was at 217 per game;
- The difference wasn’t due to passing volume. Garoppolo threw 178 passes to Kaepernick’s 169 over that time. The yards per attempt difference (the #1 indicator) is huge, 8.8 versus 6.5 in favor of Garoppolo;
- Garoppolo also took way fewer sacks and got rid of the ball, and getting rid of the ball and sack rate is a quarterback skill. Kaepernick was sacked more than twice as much as Garoppolo (while the other quarterbacks–Brian Hoyer, C.J. Beathard, and Blaine Gabbert–were all in the middle between the two in sacks). A quarterback who takes sacks and avoids interceptions will have a relatively better QB rating, which is how they are equal there. A quarterback can avoid interceptions by holding the ball and taking sacks, but it shows up in scoring;
- Which, by the way, heavily favors Garoppolo (28.8 points per start) over Kaepernick (17.5).
- Oh, and the San Francisco 49ers went 5-0 after a 1-10 start without Garoppolo, while the 49ers went 1-5 in Kaepernick’s final 6 starts, after a 1-9 start.
I could go on, but the basics are this. The cherry-picked stats show them to be similar. Reality did not. The 49ers scored way more, won way more, and looked like a dangerous team in beating three playoff teams at the end of last year, after barely being able to win a game all year with scrub quarterbacks (the kind you could legitimately say “why are they playing over Kaepernick?). They had at least 360 yards of offense in every Garoppolo start, something they managed in only 3 of the first 11 games.