Colin Kaepernick’s Development Draws Comparisons to Tim Lincecum

Colin Kaepernick got the unique opportunity to work with Kurt Warner this offseason, in the hopes of refining his mechanics and working on the mental side of being a quarterback.

Kaepernick has much to improve upon in 2015, as he had a disappointing 2014 season and failed to meet expectations that were set for him after he signed his six-year contract extension with the San Francisco 49ers. Because of this, Kaepernick has worked hard this offseason at the EXOS facility in Arizona with other NFL veterans and prospects, in addition to Warner.

At the beginning of the mentoring process, Warner said he wanted to focus on technique and the physical side of being a quarterback with Kaepernick and then he’d move into the mental aspect.

Warner and Kaepernick worked together for 10 sessions, and now that those are over, Warner spoke about the process a little more in an interview on The Sirius XM Blitz:

“The hardest thing, I told him early on, was he’s going to have to figure out where that process goes,” Warner said. “How long do I stay a quarterback before I need to become an athlete? For me, it was quarterback 24/7. There was no athleticism there. I’m a quarterback and I’m looking to throw.

“These guys who are so talented have to find that timing where it’s quarterback for this long, and then I become an athlete. And I think that’s one of the hardest things for guys like yourself, Rich, that can move and create, is how long do I stay a quarterback within a particular play, what read do I get to before now I can become the athlete that has made me so special and can make me so dynamic.”

Said Warner, “For us it was, ‘Let’s keep you as a quarterback a little bit longer, in a balanced position in a throwing position, moving, ready to throw so you can become more accurate, have more touch and then you’ve got that find that fine line of when I become an athlete.’”

Warner expanded on this by talking more specifically about what the two worked on:

“He can’t do all the running,” Warner said. “Now he’s got to become more of a pass-first guy and complement with his athleticism. And he’s never been asked to do that before. And so that’s the process that we kind of went through in the couple of months I was working with him.

“Really trying to get his normal to be a quarterback position as opposed to being an athlete – you know, thinking first as a quarterback and staying in a more throw-friendly position longer so he can get through his progressions and he can be comfortable and he can stay accurate . . . down through his reads. As opposed to looking at one guy and going, ‘OK, now I can create like I’ve done in the past.’ So that’s the kind of the process we went through.”

Kevin Lynch of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote about Kaepernick’s work with Warner in a recent article. He discussed Kaepernick’s need to have a more solid base , which will allow for easier mechanics and better accuracy.

Despite the important mechanical changes Kaepernick needs to make, Lynch also wrote that a clearer mind and better offensive line might be even more important than adjusting his mechanics, which makes sense as we’ve seen various athletes in any sport struggle on the field or on the court because they are mentally struggling with too many adjustments or lacking confidence.

Lynch even compared Kaepernick to San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum, also known as “The Freak” because of his unique mechanics and freaky delivery. Lincecum has struggled with consistency over the years, mostly because his mechanics are hard to repeat, pitch to pitch and game to game.

Lynch suggests that focusing on mechanics sometimes isn’t too beneficial, because once the game starts, a player sometimes has to rely more on instincts than mechanics. This is especially true about a quarterback who has to make crucial decisions in the matter of seconds.

Here’s what Lynch said in his article about the Kaeperick-Lincecum comparison:

Solid base leads to repeatable throws, which leads to greater accuracy. Makes sense. Of course Warner is not sure Kaepernick can correct the issue within the eight to 10 sessions in which they worked. Overall, Warner’s assessments creates more questions than it answers. Why didn’t former coach Jim Harbaugh work on engaging the lower half to increase accuracy, or former quarterbacks coach and now offensive coordinator Geep Chryst?

And what happens when Kaepernick begins throwing in the off-season program. Won’t new quarterbacks coach Steve Logan want to tinker with Kaepernick’s throwing mechanics? When do you hit the ceiling on passing mechanics input and what about the theory of allowing a quarterback to work on his own mechanics. Maybe Kaepernick should call Tim Lincecum’s dad. Kidding.

But like Lincecum, Kaepernick has a lot of moving parts in his motion. Additionally, adjusting mechanics is always tricky, because quarterbacks tend to revert to old habits in the heat of a game.

Kaepernick and Lincecum have unique mechanics to their throwing motion. In addition, it might be hard to coach because of how unique each motion is. Therefore, as Lynch said, there might be a point where a team has to rely on the player to work on their own mechanics instead of listening to too many outside voices about their own individual mechanics.

Mar 3, 2015; Mesa, AZ, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Tim Lincecum (55) throws in the third inning against the Oakland Athletics at HoHoKam Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

This might vary though by sport and by player. For example, Lincecum sought help from his father this past offseason, as his father is the one that engineered his pitching motion. His father provides insight that no other person can give, even the pitching master, Dave Righetti, because he is the one that knows that delivery better than anyone.

Kaepernick doesn’t have a mentor like that. There isn’t one person that sculpted his throwing motion, so will Warner’s guidance help Kaepernick’s mechanics, or is it truly on Kaepernick to work on his own mechanics and make the necessary adjustments? It’s certainly on Kaepernick to make the necessary adjustment in games.

Warner’s guidance will definitely help Kaepernick with the mental side of the game, which he clearly struggled with during the 2014 season, but will Warner’s mentoring translate to improved mechanics from Kaepernick in games? We’ll have to wait and see.