Jan 12, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) runs the ball against the Green Bay Packers during the first quarter of the NFC divisional round playoff game at Candlestick Park. The 49ers defeated the Packers 45-31. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Why Kaepernick Is Thriving In Second Year

Jan 12, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) looks to throw a pass against the Green Bay Packers during the first quarter of the NFC divisional round playoff game at Candlestick Park. The 49ers defeated the Packers 45-31. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Some people are starting to question why 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick wasn’t inserted into the starting lineup last year, after seeing him flourish in his sophomore season. The answer is plain and simple, he wasn’t ready! The quarterback position is by far the most important position in football, and to just hand over the duties to a rookie quarterback, can be both physically tough and mentally draining. 

If you look back in history, it’s very hard to find a rookie quarterback who has had instant success. And how does one define success? Is it based on wins, stats, or a combination of the two? Over the course of the last 15 years, I only found three quarterbacks that have had continuous success as a rookie starter. Those quarterbacks include future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning (1998), Steelers Ben Roethlisberger (2004) and Falcons Matt Ryan (2008). The verdict is still out on Andy Dalton (2011), Robert Griffin III (2012), and Andrew Luck (2012), but so far, so good.

 

So why is Colin Kaepernick thriving in his second year? It goes back to the old saying, “patience is a virtue.”

December 30, 2012; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) jogs onto the field before the start of the game against the Arizona Cardinals at Candlestick Park. The 49ers defeated the Cardinals 27-13. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Take for example, the top three quarterbacks today: Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Aaron Rodgers. All three of these quarterbacks have one common denominator- they were all groomed into the position. They each had at least a year of experience, on how to run the quarterback position from an NFL standpoint, before taking the reigns. From dissecting game film, to performing on Sundays, they became familiar with the process, and had an idea of what to expect. And Kaep was no exception.

Coming in as a rookie quarterback, I knew the kid could play. He passed for well over 10,000 yards and rushed for 4,000 more, which set an NCAA record. There was no doubting his potential. However, despite those eye-popping stats, he wasn’t NFL ready, in my opinion. He was very raw, his side-arm release was questionable, and his ability to run a pro-style offense was debatable. 

Those are huge question marks for a rookie quarterback to be named the starter. Apparently Harbaugh thought the same. Plus, the 49ers already had a proven winner in Alex Smith, who they hadn’t given up on, so it was wise for Kaep to sit out, at least his rookie year, and learn from a veteran like Smith.

Fast forward a year later, and Kaepernick and the 49ers now find themselves in uncharted territory, as they will be representing the NFC in Super Bowl XLVII. The player known for his “Kaepernicking” celebration and pistol offense, is now the unquestioned leader, of a 49ers team, destined for stardom.

His cannon for an arm, and ability to run Jim Harbaugh’s complex West Coast Offense calmly put doubters to rest. The player that found his very own fan base torn between him and his teammate Alex Smith, was another obstacle for the young promising quarterback to overcome. His combination of poise, leadership, and athletic ability is what separates him from his peers. He’s a very unique quarterback and one that seems to have that “it” factor.

With the Super Bowl only 11 days away, look for Kaepernick to prove to the world, he is right where he belongs.



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Tags: Ben Roethlisberger Colin Kaepernick Jim Harbaugh Matt Ryan Tom Brady