Jan 19, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) looks to throw a pass against the Seattle Seahawks during the second half of the 2013 NFC Championship football game at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

San Francisco 49ers: What's Next For Colin Kaepernick?

Jan 19, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) throws a pass to tight end Veron Davis (85) as Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner (54) defends during the fourth quarter of the 2013 NFC Championship football game at CenturyLink Field. The Seahawks defeated the 49ers 23-17 to advance to Super Bowl XLVIII. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

There is no doubt that San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick is one of the most polarizing players in the league. In 2012, Kaepernick took over for an injured Alex Smith and took the NFL by storm. He led the 49ers to the Super Bowl and was just five yards away from winning it. The following offseason, you could hardly go anywhere without hearing or seeing something about Kaepernick. Because of all this attention, Kaepernick had some high expectations to meet with both fans and analysts. When he didn’t meet those expectations initially, the fans and the media tore him apart.

Among all of the endorsements and popularity people seem to have forgotten that Kaepernick is still very young. He’s only started a full season once and it was a very decent season for a young quarterback. The football universe has been spoiled recently by the amazing play of the young quarterbacks, and that has raised the expectations of every other young quarterback. People forget that just a few years ago, 21 touchdowns with only eight interceptions and more than 3,000 yards was a good season for a quarterback who started his first season.

OK, that’s enough of defending him.

Kaepernick is not flawless. Not even close. He still has plenty of areas where he can clean up his game. Kaepernick has the potential to be one of the great quarterbacks in this league, but he can’t get there until he makes progress and takes the next step. Most of Kaepernick’s short-comings are from the mental side of the game. Kaepernick has all the physical tools you need to be a great quarterback, he just needs to put them all together.

Kaepernick has one of the strongest arms in the league. He can make just about any throw, but that doesn’t mean he’s perfect at it. He has always struggled at throwing touch passes and knowing when to take some heat off the ball. If you watch quarterbacks like Peyton Manning, you’ll notice how every pass isn’t just a bullet. It seems like even the majority of Kaepernick’s passes are bullets, but just at different speeds. He’s capable of making those great touch passes, since we’ve all seen him do it plenty of times before. He just needs to recognize when to make those passes, and then execute them.

Jan 19, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) drops back to pass against the Seattle Seahawks during the second half of the 2013 NFC Championship football game at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

To go along with the above paragraph, Kaepernick trusts his arm maybe a little too much at times. With how strong his arm is, it affects his decision making. There have been times where he makes ill-advised throws because he believes he can fit the ball in anywhere. As long as he continues to do this, he can’t make the next step to greatness. He was bailed out against both the Packers and the Panthers by DBs dropping interceptions but Seattle didn’t make the same mistakes, and it cost the team.

At this point in his short career, Kaepernick is not the type of quarterback that makes his receivers better. It is quite the opposite actually. When the 49ers were struggling at wide receiver, Kaepernick was also struggling. But like I said, he has had a very short career and for young quarterbacks, this is not a bad thing. It’s normal for good, veteran receivers like Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree or Vernon Davis to help out their young quarterback and Kaepernick needs to learn to trust all of his receivers.

Now, it wouldn’t be easy to for any quarterback to throw to Marlon Moore, Kyle Williams or Jon Baldwin, but at the same time great quarterbacks wouldn’t be force feeding the same couple receivers and have their fullback as their third leading receiver. We saw what happens when team take away Kaepernick’s trusted targets. He goes into panic mode and the offense shuts down. He needs to find a way to create offense with his other options or else defenses will shut him down every game.

Kaepernick is most criticized for not going through his reads. There are plenty of examples of him going through all his reads, but there’s even more examples of him taking off and running after his first read is covered. He knows how to go through his reads, but sometimes he just hears ghosts and panics. He has to be able to stay in the pocket and go through his reads and make the correct throw. Now whether the line gives him the time for that is another thing, but there was plenty of times this season where he had a clean pocket and chose to run because he was hearing things.

This is the whole point of being young and getting better and taking that next step. Hopefully as his experience grows, he will refine all of the mental aspects of being a quarterback. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and Peyton Manning wasn’t a record breaking quarterback in his first full season either. Kaepernick has all the tools to succeed and take the next step, he just needs to put them all together.

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Tags: Colin Kaepernick NFL San Francisco 49ers

  • Travis Crouch

    Well everyone said that Alex smith was no good becouse he could not make 300 yards against teams with those same wrs

  • loverpoint

    Ochoa – Things must be tough if you still are making comparisons to Alex Smith.

    There are several things holding Kaepernick back and they all point to the Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman . Plan an simply you cannot make completions if you don’t throw the ball. Greg Roman has averaged only about 420- 430 passes per season from his QB’s, the best example is the 2012 season where Smith and Kaepernick both played a half of a season and threw the same amount of passes 218, some QB’s complete that amount of passes because they throw 550- 750 passes per season. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Matt Stafford throw nearly 800 passes this season.

    Greg Roman has the 49er WR’s running horrible routes, plus the 49er QB’s have never had any fast WR’s and they still don’t. Colin Kaepernick gets very few of his passing yard as a result of his WR’s YAC . His completion % is not as good as some QB’s because the 49ers do not throw screen passes or to their RB’s coming out of the backfield, and what was the coaching staffs excuse for this ? The offensive line was not coordinated enough ( meanwhile many pundits were calling the 49er offensive line the best in the NFL and one of the best of all time ) . Roger Craig would never have a 1,000/1,000 season with this offense.

    The 49ers poor Red Zone play is not a because of Kaepernick , it is Greg Roman. You can take Alex Smiths numbers and put them next to Kaepernicks and you could use any other QB this season and all their numbers would be scarily close. That is why Peyton Manning did not come to the 49ers.

    The 49ers have the best corps of WR’s in 2014 they have had in 10 years. If you were to take these 6 WR’s : Boldin, Crabtree, S. Johnson, Lloyd, Patton, Baldwin. Ellington although drafted as a WR will only be used as Punt returner. And since the 49ers have only room for 5 WR’s this is going to get sticky.

    Another MAJOR reason for the mediocre Offense is because they often come into the game flat footed and unprepared, I have pointed out many times how little point production the 49ers get in the 1st halves of games . Look at the Conference Championship game last year. The 49ers got a gift from a Russell Wilson turnover and could only score 3 points. You remember in 2011 when the 49ers offense received tons of gifts from the Defense and usually settled for FG’s?

    I love how all you cowardly sports writers love to pick on the players as the reason for a teams faults, but seldom do they go after the Offensive Coordinator or the WR assistant , or the TE assistant, Remember Vernon Davis’s playoff game winning TD against N.O. That play did not exist in Greg Romans playbook. Geep Chryst drew the play up a couple of weeks before .

  • Hoosgow

    I think Kap’s main problem isn’t “going through progressions” as much as not seeing the field well. This may improve with maturity and experience, but I certainly hope it’s something Kap and the 49ers are specifically working on, and not just hoping it will work itself out.