Colin Kaepernick practices at Michigan’s spring game halftime

Greeted by cheers and boos from the crowd, Kaepernick used the 15-minute display as “a chance, an opportunity” he has rarely had in recent years.

“I can help make you a better team, I can help you win games,” Kaepernick says WXYZ’s Jeanna Trotman, who asked what he would say to potential teams. “I know that right now the situation will probably not allow me to come in, to come into a starting role. I know that I will be able to achieve this and show it very quickly.

“So to the teams that have questions, more than anything, I’d say I’d like to come over for a practice session. I’d like to sit down with you guys and have this conversation about how I could help you become a better team.

Nevada’s second-round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, Kaepernick had a 69-game NFL career, leading San Francisco to the Super Bowl in which he lost to John Harbaugh’s Baltimore Ravens. During his six-year professional career, he completed 59.8% of 1,692 pass attempts for 72 touchdowns (with 30 interceptions) and over 12,000 yards.

His career ended after he peacefully raised awareness of police brutality and racial inequality by taking a knee during the national anthem, drawing heavy criticism from Donald Trump and others. Under then-coach Chip Kelly, the 49ers finished the 2016 season with a 2–14 record, and Kaepernick and the team went their separate ways. The quarterback has remained unsigned ever since.

Kaepernick auditioned for talent evaluators at an Atlanta high school in 2019, but nothing came of practice. A year later, commissioner Roger Goodell said he would support Kaepernick’s return, but left the decision up to the teams. “If he wants to resume his career in the NFL, obviously a team will have to make that decision,” Goodell told ESPN. “But I welcome it, I support a club that makes this decision and I encourage them to do so.”

In 2017, teams called Jim Harbaugh to inquire about his former quarterback.

“I’m going to tell you the same thing I tell them: I think he’s an exceptional player and I think he’s a great competitor who has proven that in games and has the ability to not only be a NFL starter but a great NFL player,” he said at the time. “He’ll have a great career and be a great quarterback, win championships.”

On Saturday, Kaepernick echoed that message again, saying he could “absolutely” help an NFL team, and posed for photos with fans, signing autographs, before leaving.

“That’s one of the questions my agent kept asking was ‘Well, it’s been five years. Can he still play?'” he said. “So we wanted to make sure that we were going out, we were showing everyone that I could still play, still throw it and really just look for an opportunity for a door to open, for that to be a pathway to be able to get back into that, get a job starting point and lead a team to a championship.

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