Some of the best quarterbacks in the NFL suit up for teams that reside in the same conference as the San Francisco 49ers. The NFC is home to veteran and perennial Pro Bowl signal-callers Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees, in addition to talented youngsters like Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson. Oh, and how could I forget Eli Manning and Matt Ryan. Anyone else I left out?
After taking over for Alex Smith mid-way through the 2012 season and leading the Niners to Super Bowl XLVII, third-year gunslinger Colin Kaepernick has now thrust himself into the center of the debate as well.
The Pro Bowl is practically meaningless nowadays, but given the sheer volume of Pro Bowl-caliber QB’s playing in the National Football Conference, seeing Kaepernick selected to partake in the event would still be quite an accomplishment.
Don’t get me wrong, the 49ers faithful would prefer he be preparing to win Super Bowl XLVIII instead of heading to Honolulu, but we can’t deny that a Pro Bowl selection would further cement Kaepernick’s status as one of the up-and-coming stars in this league.
Becoming an All-Pro selection is really where it’s at, but let’s take this one step at a time.
If you take the stats from the seven games Kaep started in 2012 and extrapolate them over a full 16-game season, here’s what you’d have: 3,675 yards passing, 539 yards rushing, 27 total touchdowns (23 passing) and seven interceptions. Maybe not Pro Bowl numbers, but still rather impressive.
Now, he’ll have a full offseason to prepare as the starting QB and gain chemistry with his offensive line, running backs and receiving corps, which will now include another potent threat in Anquan Boldin and potentially a new tight end to replace Delanie Walker if the team decides to draft one early on. Not to mention the O-line is arguably the best in the NFL, and still relatively young outside of the center position.
Jim Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman just happen to be offensive masterminds, so anything the rest of the league is cooking up to stop San Fran’s explosive offense will likely be countered and squashed.
Okay, maybe that sounds a little homer-ish, but the numbers speak for themselves. The Niners’ offense showed spurts of absolute dominance during the postseason a year ago, and “The Kapper” was oozing with confidence, compiling 798 passing yards, 264 rushing yards and seven total TDs in three playoff games.
As we move closer to the 2013 season, the focus of the organization will lie squarely on finally grabbing hold of that sixth Lombardi Trophy. That said, it shouldn’t be long before Kaepernick starts pulling in some individual honors, even in a conference stockpiled with elite (or soon to be) signal-callers.