Former 49ers assistant weighs in on why Colin Kaepernick isn’t starting

Colin Kaepernick has been the hottest topic through the first three weeks of the NFL season, and he hasn’t played a down. Is it time to change that?

The San Francisco 49ers have struggled behind Blaine Gabbert the past two weeks, and some critics are calling for Chip Kelly to replace him with Kaepernick as the starting QB. But the coach hasn’t done it, leading to questions about whether Kaepernick’s protest is keeping him off the field.

Jason Whitlock, for one, believes it is:

However, one former 49ers coach says there’s more to it than that. Eric Mangini, who served as an assistant in San Francisco for the past three seasons, told Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe that while Kaepernick’s protest would become a bigger distraction if he were elevated to starter, it isn’t necessarily time to replace Gabbert after two straight losses to tough defenses.

And while Mangini praised Kelly for placing the decision squarely on Kaepernick’s health to avoid more controversy, he pointed out that since Kaepernick is the only other active QB on the roster, Kelly’s ripe for questioning about why Kaepernick is healthy enough to potentially come in as a backup but not healthy enough to start.

"Chip is smart in the sense of saying ‘He’s not ready physically’ because now he doesn’t have to make a decision which incorporates that (other stuff)," Mangini said on "Undisputed" on Tuesday. "But to say he doesn’t know when he’s ready or he doesn’t really know what his health is … you know, you meet with your trainers every single day; you know what the health of your players are. He’s the No. 2 quarterback on the roster. Christian Ponder hasn’t been active at all this season. So he’s OK if (Kaepernick) has to go in the second play of the game but he’s not OK to start the game?

"So I think that’s smart from his perspective to push it in the injury category so that you don’t have to make a decision."