It’s been five years since Colin Kaepernick led the San Fransisco 49ers to the Super Bowl, and given all that’s happened with his career off-the-field, Kaepernick’s best on-the-field highlights feel like they happened a lifetime ago.
Kaepernick, now 30, was drafted in the second round of the 2011 NFL draft out of the University of Nevada. After sitting behind Alex Smith during his rookie season, Kaepernick took over the starting job after Smith got injured during the 2012 season and never looked back.
The following season, Smith was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs and Kaepernick led the Niners to the Super Bowl. While this seemed like the beginning of a Kaepernick-dominated era, it was actually the beginning of the end.
49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh left for the University of Michigan in 2014, causing Kaepernick’s performance on the field to suffer as a result.
Entering the 2016 season, Kaepernick was named the backup quarterback behind Blaine Gabbert. It was that same season — during the third preseason game, to be precise — that Kaepernick’s silent protest went viral. The rest, as they say, is history.
While it seems unfortunately likely that Kaepernick will never again step on an NFL field, we’ll always have the memories of those utterly DOMINANT seasons he put together earlier in his career.