San Francisco 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick Set Up For Success With Trio of Coaches

Colin Kaepernick Jim Harbaugh San Francisco 49ers

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

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 BradyPeyton 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.

Brian Cox is a San Francisco 49ers writer for Follow him on Twitter @bacox87, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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  • Opentotalk

    When are sports writers going to understand that Colin Kaepernick is not a project quarterback. He is a great quarterback with an unusual skill set. Joe Montana was a great quarterback with an unusual skill set. He had a great memory. He knew every one’s route and could check for their positions in seconds and deliver the ball quickly. After his success, coaches started looking for Joe Montana type players everywhere and using the west coast offense to imitate the 49ers of the 80′s. Colin has a different set of skills that still includes being a good passer (as the Packers can attest to). But if you defend him like a pocket passer you will allow running lanes that he can exploit and if you stack the box to defend him as a runner he will go for over 300 yards in the air on you. Why not support and push all of that? Not just part of it. Colin is faster than Newton and may have a better arm. He could be the Joe Montana of dual threat quarterbacks. Sure he needs to continue to progress like anyone but lets not get this twisted. He lead his offense to 17 points against the same defense that held Peyton Manning to only 8 points (8 points that came at garbage time). With that evidence staring us all in the face, how do writers keep defining Colin as someone who needs a lot of help? What Colin needs is for his coach to tell him to keep getting better as a passer but take off when you see daylight and slide before they touch you. A little more running (not pocket passing) might have gotten us the Super Bowl against the Ravens and the NFC championship against the Seahawks. I believe Colin was set up for success when he was gifted with the abilities he has. Its time for his fans and coaches to get on the train and start enjoying the ride.

  • Brian Cox

    I’m not saying he’s a project, but to say his passing couldn’t use work and take him to the next level would be foolish? They want to improve his pocket passing more so teams can’t load up on the runs. Improve the pocket passing and when they line up in the pistol defenses won’t know what to do. He has incredible arm talent, but he needs work on his progressions and throwing motion. Whitfield is the guy to do that.