Many NFL players are organizing workouts with not only fellow teammates but with players from other teams as a way to workout together during the lockout. For a head coach like Jim Harbaugh who is new to the team and will be bringing in a whole new system of offense the lockout hurts the most for the 49ers. The lockout hurts not only because Harbaugh cannot meet with any of his players but he also cannot teach them the new system. No matter who starts under center for the 49ers next season a new system will be in place and as the lockout goes on longer the 49ers lose valuable time. This is especially the case for recently drafted quarterback Colin Kaepernick who will need all the time he can get if he wants to be a successful quarterback.
Transitioning from college to the pro-level at quarterback is challenging enough but when you add in the factor of someone like Kaepernick who ran a “pistol” system offense while at Nevada in which the quarterback lines up four yards behind the center and buys time for his receivers to get into seams and let the play develop makes it more challenging. The version of West Coast offense Harbaugh wants to install would have Kaepernick under center for most of the plays.
Kaepernick is intelligent enough to learn the playbook quickly but what will take more time is Harbaugh working on Kaepernick’s mechanics. Harbaugh cannot contact his players at all which include recent unsigned draft picks. However college players and future teammates can interact with each other. During the one-day lifted lockout before the draft it was reported that Harbaugh gave some veteran players his playbook for them to learn, one of which included free agent Alex Smith. After the 49ers drafted Kaepernick with the lockout reinstated Harbaugh gave Kaepernick phone numbers of veteran 49er players I think in hopes that Kaepernick would contact them and get a hold of the playbook. This was a great way for Harbaugh to get around not being able to have contact with his players.
Another interesting way Harbaugh is maneuvering around the NFL lockout to get Kaepernick familiar with his offense is having him workout with a one of his previous protégés, Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck.
“I’m going to try and pick (Luck’s) brain as much as I can and try to get a jump-start into this offense, and pick up as much as I can from him,” said Kaepernick.
Kaepernick and Luck first met each other at the Manning Passing Camp in the summer of 2010 and have remained friends since. After the 49ers ran Kaepernick through two pre-draft workouts Kaepernick called Luck to get some knowledge not only on the coach but the offense he ran at Stanford. Something tells me that Kaepernick was told the 49ers were going to draft him. For Kaepernick to call Luck to get input shows his maturity and dedication as a player. Kaepernick is planning on moving to Santa Clara near the 49ers headquarters to not only be near the teams facilities but a short drive away from Luck in Palo Alto. Kaepernick will learn Harbaugh’s offense and get tips from the 21-year old college player. No doubt there is no downside in Kaepernick learning from Luck until the lockout is lifted again. In fact this might help Luck’s draft stock next year, as if he needs any.
“As a quarterback, when you run an offense you see things a little bit differently than a quarterback who might understand what the playbook says but hasn’t run it on the field. There’s always little tips you can get from a quarterback that has actually run it,” Kaepernick said.