Colin Kaepernick did not have a good Thursday. But do not presume that his situation, sparked by these curious reports out of Miami, will lead to anything other than a lot of questions that probably will never be answered.
Remember, we have been here before. Once, there was another 49er in a hotel incident with a woman. There was a flurry of news reports. There was a police investigation.
And then, a few weeks after wide receiver Michael Crabtree faced the allegations in January 2013, San Francisco prosecutors chose not to file charges. Crabtree went on to play in the Super Bowl without incident, except for the controversial last 49ers play of the game when he failed to catch the winning touchdown pass.
"I don't think that can follow me," Crabtree said of the allegations, and he seems to have been mostly right.
The 49ers can only hope that the current reports about Kaepernick conclude with the same result. And it well might. The Miami police report talks about a weird episode involving Kaepernick at a hotel there. The incident supposedly happened early this month. The 49ers say they are monitoring the situation and are "in the process of gathering pertinent facts."
Those facts are rare and murky at this point. A woman says she was partying with Kaepernick and two other pro football players -- Seattle Seahawks receiver Ricardo Lockette and 49ers receiver Quinton Patton -- in an apartment at the Viceroy Miami hotel earlier this month. The party featured drinks and a marijuana bong. The woman says she felt woozy and entered a bedroom ... and she woke up the next morning in a hospital, unsure how she got there with no memory of what had happened.
That's pretty much it. We'll see where it goes from here. But if anyone is shocked that Kaepernick has found himself in this pickle, please take off your scarlet and gold glasses. The 49ers and coach Jim Harbaugh like to hold themselves out as a franchise apart from other NFL operations in this stuff. The phrase Harbaugh uses is "beyond reproach." But the Crabtree case and the Aldon Smith DUI/firearms arrest and the Chris Culliver hit-and-run allegations show that the 49ers live in the same reproach territory as other teams.
You also do wonder if this Kaepernick case, in some way, will affect his ongoing contract extension talks. He is seeking big, big money. He has been holding himself up as someone who could be the face of the team, its leader and quarterback, for years to come. Will the 49ers now have second thoughts about that? Will they have some leverage over him?
It's way too early to tell. Ben Roethlisberger, the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback, has done all right for himself after a 2010 sexual assault investigation in Georgia -- after which, again, no charges were filed. You can cite numerous other examples. But at the very least, that case seemed to wake up Roethlisberger and inject some maturity into his personality.
The same might happen for Kaepernick. His image in college was squeaky clean. But for whatever reason, he has chosen to adopt a less open and more hard-edged image as a pro -- even if his family and friends say he's the same old good-guy Colin.
If that's so, then good-guy Colin needs to think a little harder about how he spends his free time. Anyone who follows the NFL knows the deal. These are wealthy young athletes. They do the stuff that wealthy young athletes do. And yes, that would include hanging out in the offseason at a Miami hot spot like the Viceroy, described by its proprietors as "a luxury resort hotel in downtown Miami that juxtaposes elite residential necessities with scene-making dining, roof-raising lounging, created for discerning globetrotters."
Kaepernick, it seems, was in Miami for an extended period to do some offseason training. It's a popular area for top fitness coaches to conduct their business and get athletes into shape for summer team practices. But away from the workouts at the Viceroy, there was evidently some of that scene-making and roof-raising.
We still don't know Kaepernick's side of this story. But like me, you might wonder why any player in this day and age would put himself in position to be vulnerable to criminal suspicions. Rookies undergo seminars on all this, provided by the NFL before they play a single down in the league. They receive advice and warnings about being overly cautious in their personal lives -- especially with Instagram and Twitter ready to spread news globally about any wayward step. But it never seems to sink in with every player. Thursday's report was another example, even if it merely involved the sort of partying that the woman described in her report to the police.
The same woman also said she had been sexually intimate with Kaepernick before that April 1 encounter, so this investigation could take several different turns. It could all lead to a Crabtree-like exoneration that has largely been forgotten by 49ers fans, or it could lead to something much worse. It could affect Kaepernick's ongoing negotiations with the team, or it could lead to the team taking a hard line.
He owes them another season on his current deal, and the team could designate him as a "franchise player" for a couple more seasons to make sure he stays. So he's not going anywhere for a while. And his agent might wish to wait until this Miami situation is settled before making any more demands.
Mainly, this should make the 26-year-old Kaepernick think about acting more like a grown-up. He's certainly allowed to have some fun now and then. But as a friendly piece of advice, the suggestion here is that at least for a while, he might want to spend a few more nights at home by himself, watching television and playing with his pet tortoise.
49ers' Kaepernick, Patton linked to police investigation. PAGE 5