The NFC West has become one of the toughest divisions in the NFL. The rise is led by the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers becoming two of the league’s most talented teams.
It is no coincidence that Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson are in the driver’s seat of their respective franchises. The question is: Who will be the better quarterback in five years?
Wilson is a very efficient quarterback. He is a player that is in the mold of game manager similar to Alex Smith. The Seahawks only called on him to throw the ball more than thirty times in three games during the regular season. He completed ten or less attempts on three different occasions last season. One of those games was a 58 – 0 win against the Arizona Cardinals.
He will frustrate opposing defenses with his elusiveness. This was shown by his third down run against the New England Patriots when he escaped the rush and ran for nine yards when they only needed four yards for the first down. Wilson can make most throws and has shown poise beyond his years. However, I feel that he has already reached his cap.
Statistically, I think what we saw last year is exactly what we will get from Wilson. His last game against the Falcons (24-36/385 yds/2 TDs) gave signs that he is capable of doing so if given the chance. The problem is, Pete Carroll and the Seahawks are not likely to give him the chance to do so.
Kaepernick was given the keys to the 49ers’ offense as he gained more starts last year. He attempted thirty passes twice in a lot less games than Wilson. Kaepernick is a player that put the 49ers on his shoulders over the playoffs last year. He was highly efficient in the playoffs, especially in the game against the Atlanta Falcons.
Kaepernick is capable of defeating defenses even when they do almost everything right. There are times when all of the receivers are covered and the pocket collapses but Kaepernick steps up in the pocket and gets outside for a long run. That is very deflating for the defense.
Some have said that Kaepernick won’t last as long as Wilson because the 49ers call too many running plays for Kaepernick. This isn’t true. The majority of Kaepernick’s runs came when everything broke down and he was forced to run. Neither of these quarterbacks take a lot of hits. Both of them will frustrate defenses by running out of bounds before they can be hit, especially after the defense does almost everything right and still gets beat for the first down.
The difference between the two quarterbacks comes down to throws that Kaepernick is able to make. His deep ball accuracy is among the best in the NFL. He is really able to push the ball downfield and drop it in a bucket. Kaepernick has the edge when it comes to arm strength. He makes a living on those mid-range routes to his receivers. Look at some of the throws he made to Michael Crabtree against the Green Bay Packers during the Divisional Round or the ones that he made against the Atlanta Falcons. He puts the ball right on the money and gives his receivers the chance to run immediately after the the catch.
There is more of an upside to Kaepernick than Wilson. Kaepernick will only improve as he gets more starts under his belt. Both of these quarterbacks have shown promise, but the edge goes to Kaepernick when it comes down to which quarterback will be the better one over the next five years. Kapernick has a stronger arm and is more explosive running with the ball.
The past success of quarterbacks under Jim Harbaugh gives Kaepernick the edge as well. Harbaugh has proven himself to be a solid mentor and teacher of quarterbacks. Every quarterback that Harbaugh has coached has achieved their best under his guidance (ex. Andrew Luck, Alex Smith). Kaeprnick’s abilities and the schemes that the 49ers offense use are a perfect match.
The NFC West will remain a very competitive division with Kaepernick and Wilson guiding their teams over the coming seasons. Their teams will benefit greatly from their leadership and ability to rally their team even when it seems like they don’t have a chance. These young players took over two really good teams and made them elite. The next five years will feature some memorable clashes between these two outstanding young signal callers.