1st-and-10: Colin Kaepernick working out — and Bears should be there

With Mitch Trubisky spinning his wheels in his third season, GM Ryan Pace — who leaves no stone unturned — should do his due diligence and kick the tires on controversial QB.

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Colin Kaepernick runs a play against the Bears at Soldier Field in 2016.

Colin Kaepernick runs a play against the Bears at Soldier Field in 2016.

Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Colin Kaepernick is the ultimate “Be You” guy — how could coach Matt Nagy and the Bears not be interested?

Kaepernick, the former 49ers quarterback who has not played in the NFL since the 2016 season, will participate in a league-arranged workout Saturday in Atlanta that NFL teams have been invited to attend, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Kaepernick, 32, has become a hero in some NFL circles and a pariah in others since kneeling during the pregame national anthem in 2016 to protest police brutality of African-Americans and racial injustice. (In February, the NFL surprisingly settled a collusion case after Kaepernick accused the league of blackballing him.) So teams interested in signing Kaepernick have to weigh not only his physical ability after being out of the league for two-plus seasons, but also the distraction factor: the inevitable reaction/protest of fans, sponsors and media that his signing surely would elicit.

Kaepernick was 1-10 as a starter for the 49ers in 2016. But while he wasn’t the same player he was in his prime years in 2012-14 — when he helped them reach Super Bowl XLVII after the 2012 season — he still had respectable numbers. He threw 16 touchdown passes to four interceptions for a 90.7 passer rating, ranking 17th in the NFL.

Would the Bears be interested? With Mitch Trubisky regressing in his third NFL season and his second under Nagy, the Bears have to at least attend Kaepernick’s workout and see what’s up.

Unless Trubisky suddenly blossoms in the second half, the Bears likely will have a veteran quarterback in training camp next season to push him. And if Kaepernick still has NFL-caliber skills, he would fit that bill: a proven QB who can be a serious challenger to Trubisky in Nagy’s offense. If Trubisky retains the job, Kaepernick could be a cost-efficient backup — or be discarded.

The notion that Kaepernick doesn’t deserve a chance to prove himself is a joke. Jeff Driskel, Brandon Allen, Luke Falk, Ryan Finley and Devlin Hodges have started games in the NFL this season. Nick Mullens, Mike Glennon, Matt Barkley, Tim Boyle, David Fales, Cooper Rush and Garrett Gilbert have thrown passes in NFL games this season. Colin Kaepernick has better credentials than every one of them.

As for Kaepernick, he expressed on Twitter his excitement — and readiness — for the workout:

“I’m just getting word from my representatives that the NFL league office reached out to them about a workout in Atlanta on Saturday,” Kaepernick said in his tweet. “I’ve been in shape and ready for this for 3 years, can’t wait to see the head coaches and GMs on Saturday.”

2. Though James Daniels struggled at center this season, the 2018 second-round draft pick (39th overall) still is part of the foundation on the Bears’ line. He just turned 22. And he has a chance to re-establish himself at left guard.

“I just like him, period,” offensive line coach Harry Hiestand said. “I just like him as a football player and a person. He gives us everything he has every day. He’s got a lot of ability, and over time, as he gets stronger and becomes more confident playing in this league and grows and matures, he’s gonna be fun to watch.”

3. Trubisky’s 131.0 passer rating against the Lions was his eighth 100-plus rating in 22 complete games under Nagy. But only one of those eight ratings was against a defense ranked in the top half of the NFL in opponent passer rating. He had a 102.7 rating in a 24-10 win over the Jets (14th) last season (16-for-29, 220 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions).

Trubisky’s other 100-plus ratings: 154.6 vs. the Buccaneers (32nd); 122.5 vs. the Dolphins (18th); 148.6 vs. the Lions (30th); 120.4 vs. the Packers (28th); 113.5 vs. the 49ers (31st); 116.5 vs. the Redskins (26th) this season; and 131.0 vs. the Lions (23rd).

4. On the flip side, Trubisky has faced six teams in the top 10 in opponent passer rating, with a high passer rating of 86.3 against the 10th-ranked Saints in Week 7 — a rating inflated by two garbage-time touchdown passes.

His other games against top-10 pass defenses: in 2018, the No. 3 Bills (70.0 passer rating); the No. 4 Vikings (61.9 and 85.9); the No. 7 Patriots (69.8); and in 2019, the No. 7 Broncos (70.0) and the No. 9 Packers (62.1).

5. The Bears gained 226 yards against a Lions defense that came in allowing 424 yards per game. It was the Lions’ season best in yards allowed, by a whopping 144 yards. Their previous best was 370 yards allowed against the Giants in Week 8. The Packers (254 yards) and Raiders (236) also have had their season-best performances in yards allowed against the Bears.

The Bears are averaging 262 yards against defenses that are allowing 349 yards this season. They have exceeded an opponent’s average in just one game this season — 388 yards against the Chargers, who are averaging 318 yards allowed per game.

6. More woe: The Bears were 2-for-12 (17 percent) on third-down conversions against a Lions defense that ranked 32nd and last in the NFL in third-down defense (50-for-104, 48.1 percent).

7. Linebacker Danny Trevathan is the third Bears defensive player to suffer a serious elbow injury — an apparent dislocation — in the last 12 games. Defensive end Akiem Hicks suffered a similar injury against the Raiders in Week, 5. Linebacker Aaron Lynch had the same injury in Week 15 against the Packers last year.

“We have a group of guys defensively that play with absolutely no regard for their body,” outside linebackers coach Ted Monachino said. “So they’ll throw themselves into some situations where there’s heavy contact. I didn’t see Danny’s on tape, but I saw Akiem’s and I saw Aaron Lynch’s from last year. I know how that happens — I’m at the end of the down, I’m extended, I got my hands on the ball carrier and another defender hits me in the back of the elbow. That’s pretty standard stuff.”

Not much you can do about it. Despite the unusual rash of elbow incidents for the Bears, it’s an occupational hazard.

“You could put them all in braces like the offensive linemen do with their knee braces,” Monachino said. “But I don’t think a lot of our guys would be comfortable wearing that great big elbow brace all the time.”

8. Marcus Mariota Watch: With Ryan Tannehill solidifying the Titans’ starting quarterback job by going 3-1 with a 107.5 rating (eight touchdowns, three interceptions) in four starts, it’s more and more likely that Mariota will be available in the offseason.

He’s a logical candidate to be the veteran quarterback the Bears sign to compete with Trubisky next season. He played for Bears offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich at Oregon. He’s had some success in the NFL. He’ll be cap-efficient. He’ll be as healthy as he’s been after sitting out most of the season. And his mediocre numbers can be rationalized as a result of playing for three head coaches and four offensive coordinators in five seasons.

9. Josh McCown Ex-Bears Player of the Week Award: After Jets reserve Tom Compton replaced injured starter Brian Winters at right guard in the third quarter against the Giants, the Jets outscored the Giants 13-0 to turn a 27-21 deficit into a 34-27 win. The Jets, who were averaging 3.2 yards per play when Winters was injured, averaged 6.5 yards per play with Compton in the game.

10. Bear-ometer: 6-10 — at Rams (L); vs. Giants (W); at Lions (W); vs. Cowboys (L); at Packers (L); vs. Chiefs (L); at Vikings (L).

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