Niners QB Colin Kaepernick has right to proudly sport Dolphins cap

Les Carpenter

Over the next several years, Colin Kaepernick will probably give his knees to the San Francisco 49ers. Since he plays without much fear – running over and sometimes through tacklers – he may well tear ligaments or cartilage. He is likely doomed to a life of pain. Getting out of bed in the mornings could become an ordeal. Walking may be difficult.

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If he is like most NFL players, he's subject to suffering several concussions while quarterbacking the 49ers. If he is unlucky, he could forget things at an age when a person should not be forgetting things. If he is really unlucky, he might develop early-onset dementia.

At the very least, he will leave football a very, very sore man.

And for that he owes the 49ers nothing more than a promise to play as hard as he can and stay in shape.

None of this makes him obligated to wear 49ers gym shorts or 49ers socks or 49ers anything when he is away from the team. And none of this keeps him from wearing the baseball cap of another football team when he goes to a party.

For some reason, people are upset with Kaepernick because a photograph from a Fourth of July party showed him wearing a Miami Dolphins cap. In fact, they are irate. They think he is mocking his team. They think he is a traitor. They act as if he has poked his teammates in the eye and kicked dirt in their faces. They go as far as to suggest he doesn't care about quarterbacking the 49ers.

All for a cap.

And they flooded a Shutdown Corner comments section with inane screeds. One person wrote Kaepernick "is like a Coke employee tweeting pictures of themselves drinking Pepsi," adding that in the real world the man who revived the 49ers "offense and led the team to the Super Bowl would be fired for such a flagrant violation of trust."

Another wondered what would happen if the 49ers and Dolphins wound up in the Super Bowl as if such an occurrence was in imminent danger of happening.

One even appealed to the heavens: "He is a temporary QB and will not become a mainstay. He has shown his lack of loyalty and karma has a funny way of working."

Just because you may have spent $2,874.95 on 49ers jerseys over the years and have them hanging in your closet in alphabetical order from Merton Hanks to Steve Young doesn't mean the team's quarterback has to dress like you.

Kaepernick is still only 25. He has been a starter for 10 games (including the postseason). Part of his charm is his childlike enthusiasm that is refreshing in an uptight league. He plays unrestrained, challenging defensive ends rather than ducking them, trying to leap over safeties when stepping out of bounds would be more prudent.

But such youthfulness can also be a burden. Playing without a tether on the field can be a problem when you don't have a good antennae off it. Would Kaepernick have been smarter to wear a blank baseball cap? Probably. Even a Miami Marlins hat probably wouldn't have raised a stir. As the face of the 49ers now, he should be smarter about his surroundings. He should know a phone with a camera lurks everywhere. He probably understands now that wearing a Dolphins cap to a party is like throwing a match into a can of gasoline.

Still, Kaepernick committed no crime even as the Internet shrieks. In a few weeks, Kaepernick will report to training camp. He will wear a 49ers jersey, 49ers pants, 49ers socks, 49ers T-shirt, 49ers shoulder pads and a 49ers helmet. On occasion, he might even wear a 49ers cap.

And the moment he proves he is incapable of being the 49ers quarterback, the team will take these away. It will tell him to clean out his locker. It will send him out the door. Of course such a lack of faithfulness doesn't drive fans insane the way a silly piece of cloth on the skull apparently does. Colin Kaepernick might have taken the 49ers to the Super Bowl for the first time in 18 years but if his ligaments snap or his arm wears out and he's not the quarterback he once was, the Niners and their fans will toss him in the trash.

You know, like an old ball cap.

So much for loyalty.

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