Colin Kaepernick is the epitome of the saying “Luck is when hard work meets opportunity.” When he got his opportunity he took it and ran with it. There is a buzz about him going into the 2013 season and that is well deserved after the way he played especially in the playoffs. What is it that made him such a good quarterback and what are some areas of improvement?
The thing that seperates the top level quarterbacks from the average ones is their ability to rally their team. Many refer to this trait as moxy. If you look at the NFC Championship game you will see that Kaepernick has this trait. The way he led his team back after being down 17 – 0 on the road was remarkable. His moxy also showed up in the Super Bowl. Look at how he kept his poise and made some great throws as he led the 49ers back against the Ravens.
Quarterbacks are looked at as leaders. Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated talked about Colin Kaeprnick in an article he wrote earlier this year.
“From behind his facemask Kaepernick plays with an edge and attitude that’s infectious to those around him. “On one of my runs he was out there like, ‘Run the hell out of that motherf—–r!’ ” Frank Gore said. “That gets you going, seeing your quarterback out there like that.” People in the organization smile and shake their heads at his unwavering self-confidence.”
This is what you want from your quarterback. You want a guy that exudes confidence so much that the ten other guys in the game feed off of it. The 49ers feel that they are never out of a game with Kaepernick as their quarterback. The way that he was able to shake off throwing a pick six in his first career playoff series says a lot about Kaepernick. He went on to set the record for most rushing yards by a quarterback in a playoff game and three for 263 yards.
In addition to the moxy, Kaepernick has a big arm. There is not a throw that he can not make. He is able to deliver the ball outside the numbers on a deep out from the opposite hash with accuracy. He can also get the ball downfield with accuracy. We saw this on some of the drop in a bucket throws that he made to Delanie Walker and Vernon Davis.
One of my favorite things about Kaepernick is how he is able to deliver the ball to his receivers in stride on the intermediate routes. He made a perfect throw hitting Michael Crabtree in stride in the third quarter of the Falcons game. The pass was an absolute laser. It is amazing how he is able to throw the ball 15 -20 yards with so much accuracy and with such a low trajectory.
He is so accurate that he is able to throw his receivers away from injury. The throw that he made to Delanie Walker in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl is an example. He was able to place the ball low which made Walker go down to get it. Going down allowed him to not have to absorb a big him from Ed Reed. One of the best throws that I have seen Kaepernick make was against the Packers in his first playoff game. He was flushed out of the pocket and was running towards the left side of the field, then threw a perfect pass right over Charles Woodson to Frank Gore that led to a gain of over 40 yards.
Not many quarterbacks are capable of breaking off touchdown runs of over 50 yards. Colin Kaepernick had two of them this past year. He is a major threat to score from anywhere on the field. His speed is eveident when he pulls the ball back and takes off on the read option as the defensive end commits to the dive. Kaepernick can get to the corner with suddenness. Once he turns that corner, it is very hard to track him down.
An underrated part of Kaepernick’s game is how cerebral he is. Jim Harbaugh gives him the green light to check to a different play. It is astonishing how far he has come since that first preseason game against the Saints in 2011. Defenses have tried to stop different aspects of Kaepernick’s game but he continues to simply take what the defenses give him. Many people don’t know that he scored a 37 on the Wonderlic test, the second highest score in the 2011 draft class.
There are some areas of improvement for Colin Kaepernick. His receivers have complained about how hard he throws in practice. As Michael Crabtree said; “Kaep only knows one speed and that is GO.”
Kaepernick needs to work on putting touch on the ball when neccessary. He has shown the ability to do so but needs to do it more consistently. Initially, he had a bit of a problem with making his reads late but that is something that improved as he got more playing time. There where times when he would rely on his arm strength to gun the ball into a spot instead of throwing it with aniticipation. This is something that he will need to continue to work on.
The ability to beat defenses both with his arm and his legs makes Colin Kaepernick a true dual threat. Some compare his ability to that of Randall Cunningham.
I remember back in 1990 when there was an article written about Randall which called him the “Ultimate Weapon.” That is the exact term that can be placed on Colin Kaepernick.