“Everyone thinks it is the stance he took; one of the things you don’t look for is distractions in the locker room,” Montana told Kristian Dyer of The Sporting News on Tuesday. “You can go back to [former 49ers coach] Bill Walsh and as soon as there were guys that weren’t fitting in what he was looking for, it didn’t matter how good you were. You weren’t on the team for very long. You have to have people who want the same thing, fighting for the same thing and willing to put in the time.”
Kaepernick’s decision to take a knee during the playing of the national anthem before games last season in protest of the treatment of minorities in the United States made him a polarizing figure in and outside the football world. Montana believes Kaepernick’s actions ultimately played a role in the 49ers parting ways with their former second-round pick as part of their effort to “clean house, [get] a different atmosphere in that building.”
Still, Montana said Kaepernick’s on-field struggles over the past two seasons also explain why he’s not on a team with the opening of training camps looming. Kaepernick has struggled to replicate the numbers he posted in 2013 and 2014 following his breakout season in 2012.
“I’m not sure, I think there’s an injury somewhere he probably gets in,” Montana said about Kaepernick’s chances of signing with a team this season. “… It comes down to his play as much as anything.”
Former 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh is convinced in Kaepernick’s Super Bowl-winning acumen, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Ravens coach John Harbaugh have said there’s no concerted effort to keep Kaepernick off an NFL roster.
It remains to be seen if Kaepernick will be back in the NFL when the season kicks off in September.