Colin Kaepernick is an entirely new Bay Area sports phenomenon in an entirely new open-source sports-media-fan atmosphere, and he's offering up entirely new situations, which we all are learning to deal with, including himself.
Let me emphasize that last part: We're all adjusting to this, INCLUDING KAEPERNICK HIMSELF.
So it seems the 49ers' high-profile and very active QB was photographed wearing -- aghast! -- a Miami Dolphins baseball cap recently, which of course went viral, and it seems that 49ers fans didn't take kindly to it and responded angrily directly to Kaepernick on various social media outlets and Kaepernick responded right back.
Not exactly the stuff of Johnny Unitas/Joe Montana/Norm Van Brocklin here.
By the way, I don't really take much of this seriously as a window into anybody's soul. You can say that Kaepernick is showing less-than-ideal judgment by wearing another team's logo, and that he should know that 49ers fans would not enjoy seeing anything like that.
But I go back to my original point: Kaepernick is part of a generation that often wears team caps as part of every-day fashion accessorizing. He could wear a Warriors cap, a Texas Rangers cap, a Giants cap, a UConn cap or whatever -- as long as the colors are right for that day's mood.
He's not making any other kind of statement, in my opinion.
Sometimes he even wears a 49ers cap. If you see his hat-dabbling as treason, and some hint that Kaepernick is less than loyal to the 49ers and wants to leave . . . you are reading WAY too much into this.
It's not a big deal, and the fact that Montana or Van Brocklin would never do such a thing is just irrelevant to this conversation, in my view.
1) Though I'm sure they didn't wear their rivals' colors often or ever, when Montana and Steve Young and Warren Moon and Terry Bradshaw and Bart Starr were active QBs, there was no Twitter or Instagram or cellphone cameras, so nobody knew what they were wearing when they went out during the offseason and nobody cared.
Play well. Wear what the hell you want off the field.
2) There is nothing Kaepernick has ever done to make anybody believe he isn't working as hard as he can for the 49ers.
I mean, can you come up with something? No.
3) Kaepernick's only real mistake was not realizing how silly and needy sports fans can be about their teams and their heroes. And then when he reacted to their anger, it only got most of them more angry, by the way.
4) He's new to this. It's not as if he was a media superstar in Nevada. He's about to start his first full NFL season as a starting QB. There are bound to be bumps along the way.
Kaepernick does attract the spotlight (and loves the spotlight, as the new ESPN body issue and the cover would suggest). He's hard to miss and he LIKES being hard to miss.
He already has been the subject of one incredibly dim-witted column criticizing his tattoos. And if it wasn't clear before now, he will be pursued by camera-holders and anything he wears or does will draw a reaction.
I think Kaepernick partly enjoys this; he likes most of the reactions.
I've said this before, I'll say it again: Kaepernick is the Bay Area's first post-media superstar; he simply doesn't need the old, traditional media (me, the Bay Area News Group as a whole, the Chronicle, Comcast, Fox, regular ESPN) to communicate whatever he wants to communicate to his fans, or to get more fans.
He just has to get out there, and watch people react.
But also: A lot of the reaction will be stupid.
Yeah, I know, Alex Smith never was like this. Peyton Manning isn't like this. But Kaepernick is a different generation of QB, fueled by an entirely different media culture (that isn't me), and I am not going to rail about that.
We just have to get used to it. Kaepernick does, too.