Is It Colin Kaepernick’s Time to Shine?
Colin Kaepernick is the face of the San Francisco 49ers franchise and one of main faces of the NFL. Despite a somewhat disappointing 2014 season, Kaepernick still ranked second in NFL merchandise sales, behind just Super Bowl champion Tom Brady. Kaepernick is an intriguing, appealing quarterback and has definitely been a draw for the 49ers organization.
Despite this attention surrounding Kaepernick, he enters the 2015 season having to prove himself. He has done this before, as he overcame adversity to unseat Alex Smith as the starting quarterback in the 2012 season, but this time around, he will have to prove that he has grown as a quarterback and as a leader.
Kaepernick worked with former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner in the offseason to improve both his physical and mental approach to the game, and in that time, he showed improvement. We’ll see if his work with Warner directly translates into his production and his leadership this upcoming season.
According to reports, Kaepernick will be given more of a chance to be a leader on offense. In previous years during training camp and practices, former 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh used to relay the play call to the offense himself. During this year’s training camp, quarterbacks coach Steve Logan has been transmitting the play call to Kaepernick through the earpiece in his helmet, and then Kaepernick calls out the play to his teammates in the huddle. This is how play calls will happen during regular season games as well.
Kaepernick spoke about this change with Matt Maiocco of Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area:
“It allows the players to have confidence in hearing your voice and you’re the one who’s going to be giving them direction on the field,” Kaepernick said on Wednesday. “It’s something that every quarterback should have the ability to do.”
His teammates are seeing Kaepernick become more of a vocal leader, and they’re also seeing him lead a more well-balanced offense. In the past, especially last season, it was apparent that Kaepernick favored certain receivers and if a play broke down, it was fairly obvious who Kaerpernick would look for and, ultimately, end up throwing to. This made the offense more predictable, which really hurt the 49ers’ offense as a whole.
49ers cornerback Shareece Wright faced a Kaepernick-led offense when he played with the San Diego Chargers last year. Wright said that the Chargers’ defense knew that the 49ers’ offense was primarily made up of run plays for Frank Gore and throws to Anquan Boldin, who Wright claims was Kaepernick’s fallback plan. Wright spoke about how Kaepernick has shown improvement so far in training camp at seeing more of the field and finding other receivers.
Maiocco again with the report:
“Watching him on film, he had his guys he went to,” Wright said. “And I feel like this year he’s opening it up. He’s not just attacking one side of the field or throwing the ball to one person. He has more options out there.”
In addition to showing some variation in the receivers he throws to, Kaepernick has also worked on his variation in passes. The 49ers always knew that Kaepernick could throw the ball hard and get the ball to the receiver quickly, but his accuracy hasn’t always been perfect and he struggled at times when he had to improvise on throws.
49ers general manager Trent Baalke recently spoke about how he believes Kaepernick could really improve on passing under duress and throwing from different angles and at different speeds.
Maiocco reported on this topic as well:
“The only thing that matters at the end of the day is, are they accurate? It doesn’t matter how it gets there, how it looks, what the release looks like,” Baalke said.
“As long as the little things he continues to do allow him to change the arm angles and the trajectory so that every ball doesn’t look the same and every release isn’t the same, that’s what you’re looking for,” Baalke said.
“You’ve seen some of that in this camp. Now, the only way you get better at it is repetition and repetition under fire, because we could all do it, to a degree, in a one-on-one on air. But then as you build the tempo of the game up, you tend to go into different habits, or old habits. But nobody works harder. The guy works his tail end off, and I think you’re seeing some of the benefits of that.”
2015 represents a big opportunity for Kaepernick, and he has the tools and the ability to bounce back this upcoming season and become a more well-rounded quarterback. It might be difficult for the 49ers to improve on their 8-8 record this season, given the fact that they lost a lot of key players in the offseason, but Kaepernick’s overall production and leadership will be a strong factor in determining the 49ers’ fate in 2015.
Is it time for Kaepernick to shine, or will he regress in 2015? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.
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