Be prepared. Soon, Kaeperniking may be more than an end zone dance craze.
Especially if the San Francisco 49ers‘ Colin Kaepernick wins the duel of styles that’s about to take place in Super Bowl XLVII. With the skill set available to the 49ers phenom and the added advantage of being linked to a coaching staff perfectly suited to his skills, Kaepernick, and the style of quarterbacking he represents, may soon be the new normal for NFL teams across the land.
Make no mistake, the success of Kaepernick and the Pistol Read Offense won’t just be because of his 4.32 speed (which isn’t a bad thing either). The NFL has dealt with the phenomenon of speed at the QB position before. Since the entry of Michael Vick as the number-one overall pick of the NFL draft, the question how to deal with the QB as the fastest gun in the backfield has been front and center in defensive coordinator’s minds.
However, the easy answer to this dilemma for the last ten years has been: Keep ’em in the pocket and make ’em throw. The marriage of fleetness a-foot and accuracy in the pass game had not fully been achieved. In 2011, enter Colin Kaepernick, and now, the equation has changed, maybe for good.
Look at the stats. While his QB record 181 yards rushing against the Green Bay Packers was eye-opening, it’s been the other things Kaepernick has been doing his 9 previous starts that should be grabbing attention. His 105.9 QB rating in the playoff (second only toJoe Flacco‘s insane 114.0) isn’t the product of someone being protected in types of throws he’s making. Against the Atlanta Falcons, threw all across the route tree, especially when he rolled from the pocket.
More dangerous still, he used the Pistol’s read option magnificently, setting up RB Frank Gore for huge, gashing runs against a confused Falcon defense. A defense that had already seen such “running” QB’s as Cam Newton and Vick himself in 2012.
There’s more to Kaepernick than his legs. A lot more. Those who have followed his development also note his cannon arm and his surprising touch. Long term followers have also seen his maturity, on and off the field in dealing with his teammates and his growing role, first as a specialty player, then as a replacement for the injured Alex Smith and finally as the 49ers unquestioned starter.
To many on the west coast, the foundation of Kaepernick’s growing legend was his collegate victory against Boise State. That cold, snowy night in Reno, Kap marched the Wolf Pack up and down the field against a Broncos team that had delusions of getting to the national championship game. The poise and skill he showed in that upset made him a player to watch in the draft two years ago.
Fortunately for Kap, Jim Harbaugh, after leaving Stanford, and the 49ers turned out to be the team that nabbed him. Harbaugh had eyes for Kaepernick at The Farm… But also had a certain Texan named Andrew Luck matriculating on campus at the same time. This marriage never happened, until the 2011 NFL draft.
If Kaepernick and the 49ers seal the deal in the Super Bowl, a new era of QB may finally be upon us. Now, it will certainly take players of Kap’s talent and skill level to make the Pistol viable long term in the NFL. But given the benefits that are available to teams that can use the Pistol to both run and throw, don’t be surprised if more GM’s start looking for college players that can run the system.
Much of what new Philadelphia Eagles‘ HC Chip Kelly defense-killing fast-break offense is founded in the same principles. If this Sunday’s game ends in victory for the Scarlet and Gold, Kaepernicking won’t just be a marketing scheme, it may become the new “thing” in the NFL.