The Bears would be a better team with Colin Kaepernick on their roster
If they don’t go to his NFL-organized workout Saturday, it will be borderline criminal for a franchise that has major quarterback issues.
Colin Kaepernick is better than any quarterback the Bears have. He’s better than backup Chase Daniel, who, by the way, is better than starter Mitch Trubisky.
They should sign him.
But it would be shocking on several levels if the Bears took a chance on Kaepernick, who effectively has been banned from the NFL for the sin of exercising his First Amendment right to free speech.
The league has arranged a workout Saturday in Atlanta for teams interested in seeing what the former 49ers quarterback looks like. It’s equal parts science experiment and sham — a science experiment because Kaepernick hasn’t played in almost three years and a sham because he has been available for almost three years. We’re supposed to believe there’s suddenly mass interest in him?
The Bears said Wednesday through a spokesman that they never divulge where they send their scouts, so we don’t know whether they’ll be in attendance at the workout.
If they don’t go, it will be borderline criminal for a franchise that has major quarterback issues. If they’re worried about damaging Trubisky’s already-shaky confidence by going to Atlanta, they’ve got even bigger problems than we thought.
If they do go, they just might find a way to get better.
In 2016, Kaepernick’s last season in the league, he threw 16 touchdown passes and four interceptions in 12 games. He also was benched during that season. His pedestrian 90.7 passer rating that season is still better than Trubisky’s 85.2 rating this season.
He was the 49ers’ starting quarterback in the Super Bowl after the 2012 season.
If you want to argue Rex Grossman started for the Bears in a Super Bowl, I see your point. But Kaepernick threw for 302 yards in his big moment; Grossman threw for 165 in his. During that same postseason, Kaepernick rushed for 181 yards against the Packers.
He presumably still has skills that are in demand in the NFL. When he was playing, he had a powerful arm, ran fast and could carry out a complicated game plan. That has changed in three years? I don’t think so.
He also will come cheap by quarterback standards and would be a perfect solution for a team with issues at the position, even if it were just as a backup in the beginning.
The Bears’ troubles at quarterback aren’t going away. To argue that it would take too long for Kaepernick to get into shape to help any time soon would be shortsighted. The team is going to have the same problems next season, especially if general manager Ryan Pace clings to Trubisky. The bet here is that he will. If Pace doesn’t bring in competition for Trubisky next season, he’ll be arrested on charges of impersonating a GM. He’s already under surveillance.
Coach Matt Nagy said Wednesday that he’s rooting for Kaepernick to do well in the workout.
‘‘It’ll be interesting,’’ he said. ‘‘He’s been out of the game a little bit, but when he was doing well and playing, he definitely was a weapon. I’ll be curious to see how he does. For me, I wish him the best and all that. You always want good for people.’’
If this were exclusively a football question, Kaepernick still would be playing. But it’s not, of course. For some paying customers, it’s a question of patriotism. When Kaepernick decided to kneel during the national anthem to protest social injustice, he started a passionate debate between those of us who think he was putting into action the freedom the U.S. flag represents and those who think the anthem is a tribute to the military.
The McCaskeys, the family that owns the Bears, never has been in the business of doing anything that negatively might affect attendance or, as they like to call it, ‘‘gobs of money.’’ There’s little doubt there would be protests if the Bears signed Kaepernick. At a minimum, his presence would be a distraction.
You know what drives a lot of Bears fans to distraction? A long, long history of poor quarterback play. I wouldn’t begin to argue Kaepernick is the best answer to the Bears’ woes at the position. But if the goal is victories, he eventually would give them a better chance of winning games than Trubisky would.
Nothing has changed with the Kaepernick issue except time. Like every other team, the Bears can hide behind his inactivity the last three years. They can say there’s too much rust. As if they and others didn’t play a hand in that rust by refusing to sign him.
But a 32-year-old quarterback doesn’t forget how to run and throw.
‘‘I’m super-glad for him, and I really hope GMs and executives go to his workout because I do think he can still play,’’ Daniel said. ‘‘When he was rolling, a lot of people still remember that Green Bay game, when he ran for  yards as a quarterback and they really brought up the zone read. He took a really good San Francisco team to the Super Bowl. I remember him playing very well in this league, so we’ll see what happens.’’
We will. And the guess here is, not much.