49ers backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick is on top of a big list of players to watch this preseason.
First and foremost, he is the potential future of San Francisco's franchise at quarterback, which is huge. Secondly, as someone who has yet to start an NFL game, he was a high-profile passer in college who was recently selected in the 2011 draft not long after the first round ended.
As a passer, Kaepernick is super athletic, having set NCAA records at the University of Nevada. What we also like about him is that under a new regime, Kaepernick was hand-picked by QB guru Jim Harbaugh with the organization's second choice, after Aldon Smith.
Kaepernick was taken high in an extremely talented draft class by the 49ers that saw production up until their seventh round.
The second-year passer recently spoke to the media in a press conference in Santa Clara. When he was asked about his approach, Kaepernick seemed eager, insisting upon showing everyone he's ready to be a starter.
And while he is the potential future franchise quarterback, it's Alex Smith's team in 2012.
The staff is well aware of Kaepernick's presence, and they're sure to be monitoring his progress closely. I believe, without direct mention, they recognized Kaepernick's presence when they brought Alex Smith back on a peculiar three-year contract.
While Smith had the ninth highest QB rating in 2011, there are 18 quarterbacks who have a higher average salary. The contract is also appealing trade-wise and has easy outs after each year.
Kaepernick should value the preseason because it's his first go at real competition with a full offseason in place. He, unfortunately, was drafted in a shortened-league year and did not have the benefit of a full offseason as a rookie. It will be interesting to see the progress he made from preseason to preseason.
What to Watch For
- Mechanics: any development in his throwing motion, his release
- Accuracy: leading receivers, overthrowing or under-throwing receivers
- Pocket Presence: awareness, feeling pressure, footwork
- Vision: being able to read coverages, anticipation, seeing things before they happen, throwing receivers open