The Ravens lost their starting quarterback on Sunday with the hit of Flacco's quad muscle, tearing his ACL and MCL and possibly more. That thrusts backup quarterback Matt Schaub into a starting role that he hasn't had since 2013 when he started 8 games for the Houston Texans.
At 34-years old, Schaub doesn't really have a lot of football time left in his life to begin with. If he flusters this season like he has recently, the Ravens could either decide to move on from Schaub in 2016 or he could hang up the cleats himself. That puts the Ravens in a tricky position as the team is unsure when they will even get Flacco back.
The timetable is anywhere from 9 months to a full year to come back from the type of injury that Flacco suffered. Either he will be ready by week 1, or Flacco will start the season on the PUP list and we'll see him after the halfway mark.
With a team that never really rebuilds and never wants to sacrifice a season, the Ravens will probably look to still be competitive in 2016 regardless of Flacco's injury rehabilitation. That means that they need a quarterback capable of starting and winning games, not just relying on a defense that is past it's prime and a running game that also saw it's starting running back break his arm and head to injured reserve Sunday. Could that mean that the Ravens will get a different type of Super Bowl reunion?
It has been widely reported this season that the 49ers will explore their options with quarterback Colin Kaepernick this offseason. If they can't trade him outright, they will likely cut him. After the new coaching regime of Jim Tomsula came about this season, Kaepernick has been hit and miss, eventually leading to his benching and placement on injured reserve earlier this season. As tempers flare and egos get in the way, the Niners are reportedly done with the Kaepernick era and want to start over with a quarterback that they choose instead of trying to repair what they already have.
Kaepernick's contract means that he probably won't be traded. He has a cap hit of roughly $16.77 million in 2016, a total that few teams in the NFL are capable of taking on immediately and even fewer would be willing to for a quarterback that ended his season with 6 touchdowns, 5 interceptions and a quarterback rate of 78.5. On a more cap friendly deal, more teams would be interested in Kaepernick as a stop gap alternative while they wait until a quarterback they like is available in the NFL Draft or one that they have recently drafted is ready for the spotlight.
The Ravens thought would be a different and more interesting proposition. If starting quarterback Joe Flacco were to start the season on the PUP list, the team would definitely need someone capable of handling a majority of the season. With few veteran quarterbacks in the league and even fewer young quarterbacks capable of such a feat, the Ravens could be interested in their former foe.
If Kaepernick was willing to rework his deal for the Ravens, they could trade a later round pick for the ability to have him on the roster without fighting other teams for him. They would have to rework a deal that is set to pay count heavily against the cap in 2016, but given his circumstances, I'm sure he'd be willing to do so.
What makes this so interesting is the idea that Colin Kaepernick was a Super Bowl quarterback just back in the 2012 season. His opponent was this very Baltimore Ravens team, beating Kaepernick 34-31. It would be a rare reunion for a Super Bowl quarterback coming to his Super Bowl opponent, and even rarer that he wouldn't be the starting quarterback for long when Flacco gets healthy.
Kaepernick has had his troubles recently and they have been no secret. With a quarterback whisperer in offensive coordinator Marc Trestman, he could return somewhat to form for the Ravens, providing a great opportunity for both him and the team. If Flacco were to return week 10 from his injury, and Kaepernick were to win 7 or 8 games in good fashion, the market would be very hot for him. Meanwhile, the Ravens would be able to transition to Flacco with a winning record and a team in the playoff hunt.
It might be a stretch, but weirder things have happened in this league. It might just be fitting to see two Super Bowl quarterbacks on the same roster for the Ravens as they look to prove they didn't really fall off.