Colin Kaepernick throws at Michigan spring game, awaits ‘door to open’ for NFL return

Colin Kaepernick worked out in front of NFL scouts and onlookers present during halftime of the University of Michigan’s spring game on Saturday at Michigan Stadium.

The free-agent quarterback threw for around 15 minutes in a workout that was conducted by Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh and broadcast live on Big Ten Network. Kaepernick ran the full gamut of throwing drills, from out routes to medium crossers to play-action deep balls. The workout concluded with Kaepernick connecting on a deep shot and embracing Harbaugh.

After the workout, Kaepernick made his case to quarterback-needy NFL teams to give him a shot.

“I can help make you a better team, I can help you win games,” Kaepernick told Jeanna Trotman on WXYZ Detroit when asked what his message was to prospective clubs. “I know right now the situation likely won’t allow me to come in, step into a starting role. I know I’ll be able to work my way to that though and show that very quickly.

“So to the teams that have questions, more than anything I would say I’d love to come in for a workout. I’d love to sit down with you and have that conversation about how I could help you be a better team.”

Kaepernick last played in the 2016 season, during which he peacefully protested social injustice and police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem. He went unsigned in the following offseason, and has since been steadily working toward finding employment in the league.

The quarterback drew renewed interest in his services in the summer of 2020 when the NFL expressed it would welcome Kaepernick back, but left the decision up to its member clubs to sign him. No team has done so to this point, but Saturday’s workout could help draw interest in him as a free-agent addition.

Saturday was not Kaepernick’s first public workout during his time spent out of the NFL. The quarterback auditioned for interested teams in Atlanta in 2019, throwing passes to NFL veterans as representatives from as many as eight NFL teams viewed the session. Kaepernick did not sign with a team following the workout, but maintained he was ready to play for any interested club.

Kaepernick has played in 69 games in his NFL career, which began as a second-round pick out of Nevada in the 2011 draft. He took over as the 49ers starting quarterback in the 2013 season and led San Francisco to a Super Bowl appearance, where the 49ers fell to the Baltimore Ravens in the final moments of the game. That 49ers squad was coached by Harbaugh, who made Kaepernick an honorary captain for Saturday’s spring game.

The 34-year-old has completed 59.8% of his 1,692 pass attempts in his career for 72 touchdowns and 30 interceptions. He’s thrown for over 12,000 yards in his six-year career, but hasn’t been with a team in over five years.

Asked if he feels he can still compete at an NFL level, Kaepernick was unequivocal.

“Absolutely,” the former 49ers QB said. “We can still get out there and sling it. Really getting out here today for the exhibition was to be able to show that I could do that.

“It’s one of the questions that my agent kept getting was ‘Well, it’s been five years. Can he still play?’ So we wanted to make sure that we come out, we show everyone I could still play, still throw it and really just looking for an opportunity for a door to open, to have that be a pathway to be able to get back in there, get a starting job and lead a team to a championship.”

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