Colin Kaepernick: Time to Worry About His Performance?


Excluding his six playoff games, Colin Kaepernick has started 25 games. That’s not even two full seasons. And yet, many expect him to rarely make mistakes.

Sure, he had a bad game against the Chicago Bears. Statistically, it was his third-worst regular season game. He had thrown three interceptions only once before (Week Two of the 2013 regular season against the Seattle Seahawks).

He is the public’s scapegoat: he’s easy to blame, and it’s pretty hard to argue while staring four costly turnovers in the eye.

If it’s true that he’s to blame for the 49ers’ most recent loss, then should San Francisco be worried that the man they just made extremely rich (to the tune of $126 million) isn’t quite who they thought he was?

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  • No. They shouldn’t, they aren’t, and here’s why.

    He’s 26 years old and, as I stated earlier, hasn’t even accumulated two seasons worth of starts yet. Despite the fact that he’s severely disadvantaged in terms of experience, Kaepernick already has participated in — and won — more playoff games than many other veteran quarterbacks (Matt Ryan and Tony Romo, to name a couple).

    Simply put, there are very few other 26-year-olds that have accomplished as much as Kaepernick.

    Many refute this point with that fact that Kaepernick inherited an excellent team. There’s no arguing that.

    However, the benefits of a good supporting cast only go so far. The playoffs are a completely different animal than the regular season. There is much more pressure on the quarterback to perform well and, frankly, it’s nearly impossible to win with a disappointing outing by the starting quarterback.

    The fact of the matter is that Kaepernick gives the 49ers a better chance to win than many other quarterbacks would.

    Think back to the 2014 NFC Championship game. Kaepernick’s three fourth-quarter turnovers (two interceptions and a fumble) jump off the page, but if it weren’t for Kaepernick’s fearlessness and unique skill-set, the 49ers wouldn’t have even been in a position to win the game.

    Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    In the first half, Kaepernick used his legs to give the 49ers a 10-point lead. No other quarterback in the NFL — except for a healthy Cam Newton — would have been able to beat the Seattle defense like that. In the second half, he showed his poise with a great deep pass just over the outstretched arm of Earl Thomas and found Anquan Boldin in the endzone.

    Very few quarterbacks would have pulled the trigger on that throw, and even less would have been able to complete the pass.

    However, his confidence in himself also has its drawbacks. Sometimes he forces throws into tight coverage. He also has the tendency to lock onto a receiver (normally Boldin) and telegraph his passes.

    That happened twice last week. He needs to learn to go through his progressions fully and look elsewhere to draw the defensive backs away from his intended target.

    He is bound to improve in that area, but it is somewhat worrisome that he hasn’t made much improvement in that part of his game over the past few seasons. What he struggled with when he was made the starter is what he still struggles with now, and it seems as if he doesn’t even know it.

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    Part of the problem with Kaepernick are the high expectations he must live up to. Not only does he have big shoes to fill in terms of former San Francisco quarterbacks, but he also has the added pressure of performing like a $126 million man.

    As of now, Kaepernick is the perfect quarterback for the 49ers’ run-first system. He struggles to pass the ball consistently, which should encourage offensive coordinator Greg Roman to stick to the running game (although they got away from it last week).

    Although the influx of new offensive weapons makes it hard to shy away from the pass, Kaepernick simply isn’t ready to become a full-on field general.

    The 49ers need to continue playing to their strengths while Kaepernick continues to improve. Then, when Kaepernick learns to look defensive backs away from his receivers and read through his progressions, the 49ers should throw the ball more often.

    As young as he is, Kaepernick has plenty of room to improve and struggles should be expected. Becoming a professional quarterback is hard, and no quarterback ever became great without some turbulence.