Sacrilege. I can see it coming, but the question is still worthy of discussion.
To the masses, using the adjective "overrated" in relation to a player one game away from being a Super Bowl champion might be a bit—extreme?
I respectfully disagree.
His 98.3 regular season passer rating ranks eighth among active qualifying quarterbacks in 2012-13.
Alex Smith posted a higher passer rating (104.1) and higher completion-percentage (70.2) when active.
Kaepernick's ability to remain mobile adds a third dimension to his game; it's just a dimension that tends to get shut down after opposing defenses gather enough film to exploit it.
For instance, think back to Michael Vick coming fresh out of prison and exploding onto the scene during the 2010 season with an offense different and more athletic than what he ran while he was with Atlanta. He was electrifying, dynamic and then, especially as injuries from playing aggressively slowed him down some, predictably exploitable.
Game film to study was made available and Vick's limitations made him an easy target for defenses to overwhelm.
"Exciting" earns you a six-year, $100 million contract with almost $40 million in guaranteed money.
Don't always assume that team decisions reflect sensible judgement.
Vick—like Kaepernick is becoming now—was very marketable.
The parallels are similar, albeit not identical.
The concern I raise is the danger of over-valuing a player as a result of temporary success.
Jim Harbaugh (a quarterback guru of sorts) saw more in Smith last year, and as a result, created his starting lineup to reflect such. I cannot help but wonder—outside of the obvious being that Kaepernick was a rookie and has since supplanted Smith—why you'd keep a true "elite" asset on the bench in favor of an Alex Smith who entered that season with a poor track record and limited arm.
Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russel Wilson are a testament to the fact that not all quarterbacks need to wait and learn on the bench.
You don't even need to be "great" to come prepared enough to out-produce Smith.
I don't doubt that Kaepernick can evolve into being a good quarterback—perhaps even a very good quarterback.
Still, there is a difference between good, very good and elite.
I do not feel the caliber of Kaepernick's play (which stands to benefit from being so fresh that opposing defenses need time to gather film and adjust accordingly) warrants the recognition he has received thus far.
He's won only seven games in his career.
Tim Tebow has won more games (eight) in his career, and most don't think very highly of his contributions.
Disclaimer: Kaepernick > Tebow (obviously).
Yet, a flashy rise to superstardom and the overrated nature placed upon winning in the postseason has elevated Kaepernick to "household-name status."
I just haven't seen enough to justify it yet.
He's a talented, capable and exciting performer with good quarterbacking potential.
But is Kaepernick "overrated" at this stage of his career?
In my opinion, yes.
Ryan Michael is a Senior Writer for Bleacher Report. Follow or contact him on Twitter at @theryanmichael.
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