If quarterbacks have a supposed comfort zone that is to be defined exclusively by their youth and inexperience, Colin Kaepernick has been out of his for quite a while. You may be forgiven if you mistake Kaepernick for a rookie from a glance at his career numbers; it’s a common error.
He’s actually a sophomore at the NFL level, but he threw just five passes (for 35 yards) and attempted two rushes (for negative-two) in three games in 2011. Nevertheless, inexperience hasn’t been a problem for Kaepernick this season.
His first real NFL quarterbacking action (double-digit passing attempts) came at a moment’s notice: Kaepernick completed 11 of 17 passes for 117 yards and ran eight times for 66 yards and a touchdown in a tie with the St. Louis Rams. Alex Smith was concussed in that game, opening the door for Kaepernick to steal the job from him.
The speedy San Francisco 49ers QB is no stranger to big moments, even in his young NFL career. His first professional start came on Monday Night Football against a previously 7-2 Chicago Bears team that was taking the ball away from opposing offenses like it just didn’t belong there.
He threw for 243 yards on 23 attempts, completed 69.6 percent of his passes and threw two touchdowns with no turnovers. On top of that, the Bears went into a tailspin, losing three of their next four games (after dropping the previous two) and eventually free-falling out of the playoffs.
Kaepernick’s first road start came in the very stadium where he will make the final start of his sophomore campaign: the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, home of the New Orleans Saints. Statistically, New Orleans was one of the league’s worst defensive units—and Kaepernick didn’t have his best game—but the 49ers got the win and he undoubtedly learned a lot from the experience.
That game marked the first time that he turned the ball over in the NFL; he hasn’t turned it over more than once in any regular-season or playoff game. His first postseason appearance, which resulted in a record-breaking performance, was in front of a friendly home crowd.
Kaepernick accounted for 444 total yards, four total TDs and a pick as San Francisco hung 45 on the Green Bay Packers.
The following week, he completed 76.2 percent of his 21 passes, averaged 11.1 yards per attempt and finished with 254 total yards and a touchdown with no turnovers against the top-seeded Atlanta Falcons—on the road.
Super Bowl XLVII is just another chance for him to prove that he is big-time. He has answered questions about his mettle before; there is little reason to doubt him now.
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