What happened to San Francisco 49ers’ QB Colin Kaepernick? Last year, he burst onto the huge NFL stage with exciting play after exciting play and an enormous amount of potential. This year he has been relegated to “Game Manager”—and not a very effective one at that.
Yes, Kaepernick has pulled off a few exciting plays with his legs, and no, he does not have even a half-decent receiving corps, and sure, he has played some difficult defenses, but still, he has looked pretty below average. Forget ESPN’s “Total QBR,” which gave Kap two straight games with a rating over 99.0, let’s look at the man as a passer. Ever since that game against the Green Bay Packers in week one, Kaepernick has been pretty bad. Also, he has not been asked to do much. Alex Smith did more with a receiving corps that was probably even worse during his time in San Francisco. That is because Alex could game plan very well and had developed into an excellent timing quarterback—something Kaepernick, who has relied on his athleticism for so long and is still figuring out the NFL game after just over the equivalent of a season’s worth of regular season starts, is still working on.
Does this mean the 49ers should have stayed with Smith? No. It means that the 49ers are dealing with some of Kaepernick’s severe growing pains. His ceiling is astronomically high. His work ethic is unbeatable. Without receivers, though, it has been difficult for him to truly develop—especially as the play calling has recently been “run” or “do what you can passing with everyone covered.” This will not catalyze Kaepernick’s growth. It should come with time, however. Let’s just hope that time is January.