2012 marked a special year for Colin Kaepernick. From riding the bench to leading the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl, the young quarterback accomplished a lot in a span of several months. From scoring numerous endorsement deals to meeting First Lady Michelle Obama, Kaepernick is definitely enjoying the fruits of his labor. But if the 25-year-old quarterback wants to maintain his on- and off-field success, he must prove that last year was no fluke.
Head coach Jim Harbaugh raves about his signal caller’s tireless work ethic. Nine days after the Super Bowl ended, Kaepernick was already preparing for the following season. Given his immediate success and drive to be the best, you can’t question his passion for the game.
But opposing teams now view him as a marked man, and he won’t sneak up on anyone this year. Out of the 16 games on the 49ers 2013 schedule, nine of them feature an opponent Kaepernick faced last year. In addition to them, San Francisco will take on the Houston Texans who finished fifth in sacks last year, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with their rejuvenated secondary headlined by Darrelle Revis.
As teams become more familiar with his tendencies, it will be harder for him to catch them off guard. However, the Nevada product has the skills and talent around him to build on last year’s success.
Kaepernick, along with Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III, are changing the way the position is played. Given their ability to run and throw accurately, the zone-read option is becoming the game’s latest offensive trend.
Utilizing that scheme, Kaepernick can run himself, hand the ball off or drop back to pass. Defenses have and will continue to get headaches trying to contain all three options. In the 10 games that Kaepernick started, the 49ers offense averaged 27 points per game. That’s nearly a five point increase from the eight full games Alex Smith started (22.75).
For someone who just started playing at the NFL level, it’s impressive that he was pretty consistent throughout his starts. Kaepernick’s only blemishes came against the St. Louis Rams in Week 13 and Seattle Seahawks in Week 16.
The obstacle course for the third-year signal-caller only gets more difficult from here on out, but if he shows that he was not a victim of beginner’s luck, he’ll be knocking on the door of being considered an elite quarterback.
Another season of highlights coupled with winning plays will no doubt push him into that prestigious fraternity.