For the short time that San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been in the NFL, he’s had the luxury of having two of the best quarterback minds in the league teaching him the ins and outs of the position. Those minds are head coach Jim Harbaugh’s and quarterback coach Geep Chryst’s. This week, the 49ers added another quarterback-centric talent to the coaching staff when they brought George Whitfield on as an intern.
Harbaugh’s history speaks for itself when it comes to quarterbacks. It started with Josh Johnson at the University of San Diego, then Andrew Luck at Stanford (obviously Harbaugh wasn’t the biggest factor in Luck’s success), followed by developing Alex Smith into a quality starter and a playoff winning quarterback in San Francisco, and now what he is doing with Kaepernick.
Chryst is someone most people haven’t heard of outside of San Francisco, but he is one of the better quarterback coaches in the entire league. His work ethic is unmatched and he makes sure his quarterbacks are the same way. Play after play he is in their ears making sure they know every possible scenario and what to do in each one. When it comes to teaching mechanics, he is very meticulous. Another thing a lot of people don’t know is that the tie between Harbaugh and Chryst goes all the way back to 1987, which was Harbaugh’s first training camp with the Chicago Bears where Chryst was a ball boy who caught the eye of Bears head coach Mike Ditka. When Ditka had an opening on his coaching staff, he remembered Chryst’s work ethic and brought him on board.
Adding to this quarterback brain trust is their new intern, Whitfield, who is known as a quarterback guru and helps college prospects prepare for the NFL draft. His clients include names like Ben Roethlisberger, Luck, Cam Newton and Johnny Manziel. Whitfield won’t be teaching the 49ers’ quarterbacks about schemes and coverages, his focus is on technique and fundamentals. When talking about Whitfield’s attention to detail, Luck said, “He makes sure that everything is perfectly organized, exactly in the right place.”
Some of the methods Whitfield used on Newton to transition him from a shotgun spread offense quarterback to a drop back quarterback from under center were taking Newton into the ocean to take away his agility, watching hours of tape on Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Matt Hasselbeck, and making his throwing motion much more efficient.
All of these methods can be applied to current 49ers starter Kaepernick. With the work ethic of Kaepernick, I can only imagine the amount of hours he and Whitfield have already put in together. For Kaepernick’s sake, Whitfield may be the best person the 49ers could have added to their staff. And if Whitfield can teach Kaepernick to stay in the pocket and throw effectively from there, there may be no stopping him this season.