Colin Kaepernick wasn't able to win back the starting quarterback job from Blaine Gabbert during the San Francisco 49ers training camp, but it appears he has another opportunity to now.
There's just one thing holding him back — his weight.
Kaepernick had three offseason surgeries this year — to his shoulder, knee, and thumb — and in the process, lost a lot of weight while he wasn't able to work out. He also turned to a vegan diet, though he says that hasn't affected his physique (Pro Football Talk's Michael David Smith argues otherwise).
With the 49ers 1-2, having lost their last two games, and Gabbert struggling, the starting job seems open. However, Kaepernick may not physically be ready for the job. 49ers coach Chip Kelly said as much.
"I don’t think he’s ready to go full time. He’s continuing to work on it. ... And Kap will be the first to tell you, if you guys have been around here before, I think his playing weight has been around 225, and he’s not at that right now. So he’s going out there and continuing to work, continuing to get better. He had a serious layoff in terms of being able to medical rehab. To get the full Kap for what you need, the potential that he has, he needs to continue to just work on the physical aspect of things."
Kaepernick had an amusing plan to get back to his necessary playing weight.
"Eat food," he said. "And a lot of it."
He continued, "That’s something I’ve always had to do, I’ve always had to be conscious of. I have a very lean body type, so putting weight on for me is a little more difficult (than for) others." Kaepernick insisted that he'll continue to work out, put on weight, and be ready if he gets the opportunity to play.
When Kaepernick showed up to workouts in early August, he was noticeably thinner and told reporters he hadn't weighed himself because he didn't want to see the number. At the time, Kelly said he thought Kaepernick was moving and throwing well and that he couldn't see a difference in his performances.
Two months later, it's clear the weight loss is a real issue. Here's Kaepernick before the 49ers' Week 3 game:
It's a noticeable difference from where he was in the middle of preseason (though the loose-fitting shirt doesn't help):
For a player whose place in the NFL seemed far from cemented weeks ago, Kaepernick could use the reps in the regular season to prove he's still a capable quarterback. He'll regain the weight and necessary muscle, but it's noteworthy that it hasn't happened yet by Week 4.
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