The San Francisco 49ers apologized on Friday for leaving Colin Kaepernick out of an online photo gallery that celebrates the team’s history against the Green Bay Packers.
San Francisco and Green Bay will meet Monday night for the 67th installment of a series that dates back to 1950, and that includes many memorable postseason encounters. The 49ers, in recognition of the matchup’s historical significance, posted a photo gallery to their team website featuring pictures from the franchise’s many showdowns with the Packers.
Soon thereafter, they had to apologize for one glaring – perhaps intentional, perhaps unintentional – omission.
The gallery features 49ers of all kinds
There are now 51 photos dating back 51 years after the Niners added two of Kaepernick on Friday. Previously, there were presumably 49 – some nice symmetry with the team’s nickname.
Included among the 51 snapshots are Joe Montana and Ronnie Lott, Jerry Rice and Steve Young, Terrell Owens and Andre Carter. There were lesser known names, such as Tyronne Drakeford, Kevan Barlow and Jeff Garcia. There were plenty of more modern photos, too, featuring players such as Alex Smith. There were even current Niners – tight end Garrett Celek and punter Bradley Pinion.
The purpose, it seemed, was to highlight some of the franchise’s greatest moments against Green Bay. Which made the exclusion of Kaepernick all the more conspicuous.
Some of Kaepernick’s best performances came against Green Bay
The height of Kaepernick’s brilliance came in 2012 and 2013. And his single most magical performance might have come in a January 2013 NFC divisional playoff game against the Packers. Kaepernick accumulated 444 all-purpose yards – 263 through the air, 181 on the ground – and four total touchdowns. He outdueled Aaron Rodgers, his greatest NFC contemporary, in a 45-31 win.
A year later, Kaepernick threw for 412 yards and three TDs in a season-opening win over Green Bay. The 49ers met the Packers again in a wild card matchup, this time at Lambeau. Kaepernick again got the best of Rodgers, amassing 325 yards from scrimmage, and leading a game-winning drive that culminated with a Phil Dawson field goal as time expired.
Yet the gallery featured pictures from those games of Michael Crabtree, Mike Iupati, Patrick Willis, Vernon Davis, Justin Smith, Perrish Cox, Frank Gore, Anquan Boldin, NaVorro Bowman, Jonathan Goodwin, Tarell Brown, Anthony Davis, Alex Boone, and a bunch of special teamers … and, initially, none of Kaep.
The 49ers’ statement
The gallery has since been amended to include two photos of Kaepernick. Along with the amendment, the 49ers issues the following statement Friday:
“Unfortunately there were a handful of obvious misses in this gallery posted by our website team and we appreciate them being brought to our attention. The 49ers organization has tremendous respect and gratitude for the contributions Colin made to our team over the years. We have fond memories of those games and that should have been displayed on our website. This oversight does not properly reflect the appreciation our ownership and this team have for Colin.”
In addition to the team’s official statement, general manager John Lynch appeared on Bay Area radio station KNBR 680-AM, and was asked about Kaepernick’s curious absence. “We’re looking into right now how that happened and were trying to rectify it,” he said. “I just learned of it. Not something I’m proud of. It’s a glaring omission and we’re working to get it fixed.
“From ownership on down, we’ve got so much respect for his contributions to this franchise. Against the Packers, anyone who’s a fan of football, particularly 49ers fans, knows he has a great part of history against the Packers.”
Kaepernick remains unsigned, but 49ers have supported him
Since the 49ers parted ways with Kaepernick after the 2016 season – and while dozens of dreadful QBs have taken NFL snaps in his absence – the 30-year-old has not played a single down of football.
After Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem that season to protest racial injustice and police brutality, the franchise was initially supportive. It matched his $1 million contribution to programs promoting and fighting for equality.
Friday’s photo gallery snub was the first hint of any anti-Kaepernick sentiment within the organization. Several photo galleries posted to the team’s website last season now include the quarterback.
But no NFL team has offered him a contract. Kaepernick, in 2017, filed a collusion grievance against the league and its 32 teams, alleging that owners have conspired to keep him off an NFL roster.
Many teams have overlooked him in favor of objectively inferior options. When the 49ers lost starting quarterback Jimmy Garropolo for the season to a torn ACL, head coach Kyle Shanahan was asked whether Kaepernick could be an option as a replacement. His response was, effectively, no – because Kaepernick doesn’t fit the team’s offensive scheme.