- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 28, 2017

PHOENIX — Four years ago, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh faced Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl, so it’s safe to say he’s surprised that Kaepernick is still out of work as a quarterback.

“He’s too good a player,” Harbaugh said Tuesday at the AFC Coaches breakfast during the NFL’s annual meetings. “I mean, he’s got to prove himself as a player. Colin knows that, he’d be the first to tell you that. You know, when you’re the quarterback and you don’t win, you’re going to have to answer for that. But he’ll get a chance again. Someone’s going to sign him and he’ll play in this league probably for a long time.”

Kaepernick remains unsigned after opting out of the final year of his contract in San Francisco in March.

Kaepernick has a career completion percentage hovering just under 60, had a 16-4 touchdown-interception ratio in 12 games last season. He has been to a Super Bowl and, together, those things usually merit another shot in the quarterback-needy NFL.

He’s also seen as a difficult scheme fit (and most teams want backups who can fit their starters’ schemes), though, as well as a potential “distraction” because of his political beliefs. Kaepernick became the face of a national controversy last season when he chose to kneel during the national anthem to draw attention to racial inequality in the United States.

According to Harbaugh, whose brother Jim Harbaugh coached Kaepernick in San Francisco, it’s too simplistic to say that the quarterback has been “blackballed” by the league.

“I would never use just a generic, stupid term like that to describe a more complicated type of situation,” Harbaugh said. “I just think it’s too easy. It’s intellectually lazy. To me, I think that it’s more nuanced. And I do think that people are, yeah, I absolutely think he’s going to get signed. I think he’ll probably be starting somewhere next year.”

While he said potential distractions certainly factor into whether he wants to bring in a player, Harbaugh said that Kaepernick’s behavior wouldn’t be a problem with the Ravens.

“We’ve been very clear over the years, guys speak their mind in Baltimore,” Harbaugh said. “It’s not going to impact how somebody plays. I’m not going to play better or worse because this person believes this or that. We can certainly disagree with anything, a political opinion, or how a guy wears his socks or whatever. It’s not going to impact how I perform but we’re allowed to have that conversation and that’s what America is.”

• Nora Princiotti can be reached at nprinciotti@washingtontimes.com.

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