After Sunday’s crushing loss to the Seattle Seahawks, the question remains whether Colin Kaepernick will become an elite quarterback or remain the tantalizing hot-and-cold quarterback he was again in the NFC Championship Game.
For the first three quarters against the Seahawks, Kaepernick did everything right. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman had wisely designed runs for him and he set a playoff record for quarterbacks with a 58-yard run that set up a touchdown — and forced Seattle coach Pete Carroll to change his defensive scheme at halftime.
Kaepernick seemed to have conquered his personal demons about playing in the airplane hangar the Seahawks call home. He had only one delay of game penalty and handled the crowd noise well, throwing accurately when he had to and playing under control.
Then, he completely unraveled in the fourth quarter with three turnovers. The first was a fumble and the second was an interception which he seemed to throw right to the Seattle defensive back. On television, Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman said he didn’t know what Kaepernick was thinking.
All that could have been erased by the last 49ers’ drive, when they seemed to be on their way to the game-winning touchdown. Kaepernick tried to hit Michael Crabtree in the right corner of the end zone, where he was covered by Richard Sherman. Are you kidding me? The most important pass of the game and you target the player who is universally regarded as the best cornerback in the league? The pass was tipped by Sherman and went into the hands of Seattlelinebacker Malcolm Smith. Game over.
It was a grim reminder that for all his talent, Kaepernick still can’t shake the tendencies that keep him from being an elite quarterback. He still focuses on one target, often Crabtree, even if others are open. This was exactly what he did at the end of last year’s Super Bowl, when he threw three straight incomplete passes to Crabtree. Kap’s not exactly a fast learner.
–Glenn Dickey, San Francisco Examiner
Colin Kaepernick is the quarterback to lead the 49ers on the Quest For Six.
Yes, he is that dude.
His performance in the NFC Championship game, despite its obvious warts, demonstrated once more why that is the truth.
Some of the throws Kaepernick made Sunday, especially the touchdown to Anquan Boldin, displayed his rare ability to make plays. His effectiveness scrambling had the best defense in the NFL discombobulated.
Yes, his inaccuracy — and perhaps his stubbornness — led to another season-ending pass attempt to Michael Crabtree. A slightly better throw, three inches higher or six inches wider, and everything is different. The 49ers are going to the Super Bowl, Kaepernick is being celebrated, and there is no question that Kaepernick is the man now and beyond.
The truth: He is that dude anyway.
Kaepernick is the very reason the 49ers are where they are. He’s the player who makes them dynamic and dangerous. He’s the one player on the team who can win a game the 49ers might otherwise have no chance of winning. He is the reason they still were in the game until the final seconds. He is the reason, even if they had fallen behind by two scores, they still would have had a chance.
Save for two passes, one against the Baltimore Ravens last February, he would be wearing a Super Bowl ring and about to play for a second. Nobody has more to do with this team’s level of success. Nobody more embodies the heights to which this team can reach.
That was evident against the Seahawks. The sky above CenturyLink Field was collapsing. The game plan was falling apart. You could argue the officials weren’t giving the 49ers a fair shake. Yet, the 49ers were right there, because of Kaepernick.
San Francisco’s ground game had been silenced by Seattle; Frank Gore couldn’t go anywhere. The defense was being outplayed by Russell Wilson’s crew. Throw in the intimidating environment and the high stakes of the game, and you had the ingredients for a blowout.
But the 49ers had Kaepernick. His will nearly won them the game. In what could be deemed a poor overall performance, he remained the chief reason the 49ers nearly pulled it off. He’s not the stereotypical quarterback many would prefer. But he is so impactful, he can change a game even on a bad day.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a greater natural talent at quarterback. And it’s punctuated by his sheer will. He’s got that young Brett Favre swag.
Yes, Kaepernick is that good. So good, he gives the 49ers a chance to win every game they play. If he ever gets the polish to his game — getting his feet set on deep throws, developing his patience and awareness in the pocket, consistently applying the right touch to throws — he’ll be so good as not to cost the 49ers games, either. When that happens, look out.
–Marcus Thompson II, San Jose Mercury News
Big-wave surfers have waited four years for the type of ocean swell that defines Mavericks: big, dangerous and photogenic. That swell appears to be imminent, and there were strong indications Tuesday night that the Half Moon Bay contest will be held Friday.
Meteorologist Mark Sponsler, the event’s official surf forecaster, said “the strongest storm of the season” is heading toward the West Coast. “It developed on the dateline Monday and quickly exploded, generating 60-knot west winds and seas in excess of 50 feet, aimed well at California and particularly at Mavericks.”
Though there was no official announcement, organizers spent Tuesday night doing preliminary work and contacting the 24 invited surfers. Many of them had surfed Mavericks in the morning and afternoon, braving a 15- to 20-foot west swell (up to 40-foot faces) described as “mean and nasty – real Mavericks” by San Francisco’s Grant Washburn, who has surfed the place since the early ’90s.
“We’re using today’s swell as a model,” said contest director Jeff Clark, who will make the final call after consulting with Sponsler and a number of elite surfers. “Because this next one is coming from the same direction – only bigger. And it’s holding strong. If it holds true to form, we’ll be getting waves in the 20-foot-plus range on Friday. Without jumping out of my skin, I think we’re gonna see exactly what we’ve been hoping for.”
The February 2010 contest remains the standard for paddle-surfing contests, producing consistent 25-foot sets and some that looked so fearsome, even the world’s best big-wave riders chose caution over bravado. The following two winters passed without suitable contest conditions, and last year’s event, held Jan. 20, proved to be a disappointment because of exceedingly long lulls between sets.
“That’s why I’m sticking to 48-hour advance notice this time,” Clark said. “We want to avoid the situation we had last year, when we called it five days out. That was a wing-and-a-prayer kind of thing, because we were running out of days when we could hold it. At that time, we called it with the swell still 2,500 miles out to sea. It will be around 1,500 miles this time. That gets us closer to the zero hour.”
–Bruce Jenkins, San Francisco Chronicle