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Jim Harbaugh believes Colin Kaepernick can be ‘a great NFL player’

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Harbaugh led the 49ers to a Super Bowl bid with Kaepernick behind center.

Arizona Cardinals v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Colin Kaepernick is a free agent, and for whatever reason, his services do not seem to be in high demand. His former coach, Jim Harbaugh, thinks quarterback-needy teams are missing out on a signal caller who could take them to the Super Bowl.

Several teams in need of a quarterback have reached out to the Michigan Wolverines coach to inquire about Kaepernick.

“I’ll tell you the same thing I tell them: I think he’s an outstanding player and I think he’s a great competitor who has proven it in games and has the ability to be not only an NFL starter but a great NFL player,” Harbaugh said on PFT Live.

Harbaugh took it one step further, saying that the team that signs Kaepernick will “win championships.” Plural.

Last season, Kaepernick’s decision to protest during the national anthem made him a polarizing figure around the league; Harbaugh said he disagreed with Kaepernick’s “motivation” and later apologized. The QB initially remained seated during the anthem and later kneeled to raise awareness of the ongoing oppression of people of color in the United States and police brutality toward black Americans.

Donald Trump said Monday that he may be the reason Kaepernick remains available.

"NFL owners don’t want to pick [Colin Kaepernick] up because they don’t want to get a nasty tweet from Donald Trump,” Trump said, according to The Guardian’s Ben Jacobs.

The truth probably has less to do with Trump’s assertion than it does with Kaepernick’s performance on the field since 2015. But Harbaugh, who knows a thing or two about what Kaepernick is capable of doing, thinks he can get back to his previous level of play.

In 2012, Kaepernick’s first season as the Niners’ starter, under Harbaugh’s leadership, San Francisco made it to the Super Bowl only to lose to the Baltimore Ravens and Harbaugh’s own brother, John. (Surely, Harbaugh took that well).

The following season, the 49ers made it back to the NFC title game but lost to the Seattle Seahawks. After the 2014 season, Harbaugh “mutually agreed” to void his contract with the team following an 8-8 finish. Kaepernick’s decline began the following season, and he started just eight games before being benched by head coach Jim Tomsula.

Kaepernick eventually won the starting job back under last year’s head coach, Chip Kelly, and finished the season with 2,241 yards, 16 touchdowns and four interceptions over 11 starts. Now he’s looking for a new NFL home after voiding his contract with the 49ers this spring.

Harbaugh said any team willing to take the time to develop Kaepernick and maximize his skill set will reap the benefits. It just remains to be seen which team — if any — that will be.