My first column questioning whether Colin Kaepernick would have a successful career with the 49ers got the reaction I expected: Are you out of your mind?
Perhaps now readers understand what I was talking about.
My long experience with the NFL has taught me that unusual players and systems have a short shelf life. Remember when “Tebow Time” was the hot story, when media members were falling all over themselves talking about Tebow being the same sensation in the NFL as he was in college? I saw him against the Raiders when he missed wide open receivers and realized he would soon be exposed. I wrote that and it soon happened.
It is certainly possible for a quarterback who is also a good runner to be successful, as Steve Young was. But in college, Young had been a drop back passer, setting an NCAA record for completion percentage. He had picked up bad habits in the USFL and with a bad Tampa Bay team, but when he shucked those and learned Bill Walsh’s system, he became a Hall of Famer.
In the current NFL, Russell Wilson is a quarterback who can run for yardage or gain time to throw by dodging potential tacklers in the backfield. But Wilson is always looking first to throw, with running the option only when all passing routes are shut down.
Kaepernick is not that kind of quarterback. He played in the “Pistol” offense in college, which gave him the option of either running or passing, and he excelled at that.
But this is the NFL, and the performance bar is much higher. Unfortunately, Kaepernick has always thought he could play the same way he did in college and his success level has dropped and dropped. Now, it’s at the bottom.
It isn’t all his fault, of course. The offensive line is a sieve because of significant losses through retirement of key players and injuries. But even when he has time to throw, Kaepernick is throwing balls into the ground or going for a short yardage pass when a receiver like Antwan Boldin, who catches everything, is open on a deep route.
The 49ers sent Kaepernick to Arizona in the offseason to work with Kurt Warner, who was the ultimate pocket passer. Do you see any signs of that in Kap now? Of course not.
Frankly, his career is on the line now. I think the 49ers will soon start Blaine Gabbert, perhaps even in the next game. Gabbert’s career got off to a bad start because he was drafted by a bad team but he looked sharp in the exhibition season and seems poised to show that he’s a legitimate NFL quarterback. If he does, the 49ers may start him for the rest of the season.
Kaepernick signed a team-friendly contract with the Niners because he was confident of his future but now, that means it will be easy for the Niners to cut their ties with him at season’s end. And I doubt another team will pick him up.
What do YOU think? Let me know!
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