Colin Kaepernick Quickly Becoming the Face of the San Francisco 49ers

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Colin Kaepernick Quickly Becoming the Face of the San Francisco 49ers
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

San Francisco 49ers starting quarterback Colin Kaepernick could be the face of the 49ers franchise for the next decade, particularly if his progress and momentum remain steady.

Perhaps it was always his destiny, as his emergence in the pros was strikingly similar to his rise in the NCAA.

As a redshirt freshman in 2007, Kaepernick replaced then-Nevada starting quarterback Nick Graziano, who went down with a season-ending foot injury. Kaepernick had his first start against Boise State—a team that finished 10-3 that season and was undefeated at home.

The Wolf Pack entered the game as 26-point road underdogs against the Broncos’ top-ranked defense. Against pretty unbelievable odds, Kaepernick almost gave Boise State more than they could handle.

Colin Kaepernick's first start (Pt. I)

Colin Kaepernick's first start (Pt. II)

In one of the highest-scoring games in NCAA history, Kaepernick nearly upset the Broncos, taking them to four overtimes. He accounted for 420 all-purpose yards and five touchdowns in his first start.

Kaepernick went on to be the first quarterback to pass for over 10,000 yards and rush for over 4,000 yards in a collegiate career—a record that may never be broken.

The former two-time WAC Offensive Player of the Year was the sixth signal-caller selected in the 2011 draft class—taken 36th overall—but brings more upside to the table than any of his counterparts. 

He is a true multi-dimensional player at the quarterback position, which—as we have witnessed—is extremely problematic for defenses. He is a legitimate dual-threat in that he can run and throw.

Like former Super Bowl winning quarterback Phil Simms said, “Forget the running, that arm alone is enough to make you a franchise quarterback.”

Before the draft, 49ers head coach and quarterback guru Jim Harbaugh flew to Reno to personally work out Kaepernick. Harbaugh successfully developed Andrew Luck and Alex Smith, but Kaepernick may be his biggest claim to fame yet.

As the team's new architect, Harbaugh made Kaepernick one of his first major acquisitions. And although it took an injury to get Kaepernick in the lineup, he seemed destined to be “the guy” in San Francisco.

After Smith sustained a concussion versus the St. Louis Rams, the second-year man from Nevada got his first start in Week 11 against the Chicago Bears.

And he seized the moment.

Colin Kaepernick's first start vs. Chicago Bears - Week 11

San Francisco is an organization that has a history of all-time great quarterbacking. However unlikely, the 49ers had back-to-back Hall of Fame passers who produced five championships in total. The standard was set a long time ago, but only recently have the Niners returned to prominence.

Kaepernick has brought offensive football back to San Francisco.

And given that this is indeed a quarterback-driven league, the Niners were in need of some dynamism to complement this smash-mouth defense.

And though the sample size is small, it is impressive. He is 7-2 as a starter, in which time he has beaten Drew BreesTom BradyAaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan—including three road wins and two postseason games.

What Kaepernick brings to the position helped the 49ers get over the hump. Along with his physical gifts, he possesses a presence on the field that cannot be statistically measured. He’s shown exceptional poise at the pro level, looking awfully advanced given his minimal game experience.

He reads and reacts to defenses with intuitiveness. He trusts his instincts, his physical ability, as well as his teammates and coaches. He stands tall in the face of adversity, making big league throws when the pressure is at its peak. 

Kaepernick's ability to produce electrifying plays is a big reason for his acceptance. Whether you're his teammate, the media or a member of the 49er faithful, it's impossible not to be drawn to him.

And realize that he can—and likely will—represent the Red and Gold for years to come.  

 

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