Posted: 12:30 p.m. Monday, July 29, 2013
By James Brady
Here at Niners Nation, we're presenting a series called "90-in-90". We'll be looking at every player on the 49ers offseason roster, one player per post, from now until the start of training camp.
Colin Kaepernick is a player that almost everybody here was excited about when the San Francisco 49ers traded up to draft him. Many of us took part in a Q&A; with him at our Jacksonville Jaguars blog pre-draft and the general consensus was that he was a Jim Harbaugh kind of player.
Then Alex Smith started to play well -- really well -- and Kaepernick became his "backup" and not the obvious "guy who will play next year." When Smith went down with an injury and Kaepernick stepped in during that game against the St. Louis Rams, I think he about performed as well as expected.
Which was to say: just alright.
Personally, when Harbaugh made the decision to stick with Kaepernick in lieu of Smith, I thought he was making a mistake. I thought the instability of making that kind of switch mid-season was going to hurt the 49ers big time, especially given how consistent Smith was playing. After all, Kaepernick couldn't lead the 49ers to victory against the Rams.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: I was a fool. Kaepernick rebounded by absolutely dismantling the Chicago Bears, and rallied off a few wins that, while I believe Smith could have won as well, cemented him as the starter. He then led the 49ers into the playoffs, and into the Super Bowl.
I'm not sure what it was that hurt the 49ers early in games last season, but it wasn't Kaepernick. He was on the money most of the time, and the few times he looked like a "rookie," the 49ers were plenty talented to deal with it.
The list of reasons he could improve could go on for a long, long time. He's a young, talented quarterback in his athletic prime. He's got a full offseason and training camp as the starter, and every facet of that offense will be built around making him succeed. Kaepernick lit up the NFL last season, but he still have a lot of room to grow, and that's the scary part.
Maybe last season was a fluke -- perhaps it was lightning in a bottle. Maybe the rest of the NFL will adapt the read option and Kaepernick could struggle without Michael Crabtree for most of the season. Frank Gore is a year older, Kendall Hunter is recovering from an injury, Vernon Davis may or may not become that prolific receiving option in the regular season again and, of course, the NFC West is getting very tough. There is room for Kaepernick to fail, it's just not likely.
Unless that Miami Dolphins hat was a sign that Kaepernick was planning to demand a trade any time soon, he's the starting quarterback of the future. He'll make the roster, and he'll get every chance to succeed, and then some. Colt McCoy certainly isn't going to push him for the starting role.