When Colin Kaepernick takes the field as the starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII, he will join a very exclusive club. If recent history is any indication, it will be a good day for him and his team.
The list of first-year starting quarterbacks to lead their team to the Super Bowl includes Vince Ferragamo (Los Angeles Rams, Super Bowl XIV), Kurt Warner (St. Louis Rams, Super Bowl XXXIV), Tom Brady (New England Patriots, Super Bowl XXXVI) and now Kaepernick.
Of the previous three first-year starters to lead their team to the game, only Ferragamo made fewer regular season starts (five) than Kaepernick (seven).
Ferragamo is also the only quarterback on the list to lose a Super Bowl. Warner shined in his Super Bowl debut against Tennessee, throwing for 414 yards and two touchdowns, including a game-winning 73-yard strike to Isaac Bruce with less than two minutes to play.
The foundation for Brady's legacy was laid in his first Super Bowl, although it wasn't the best game of his career statistically. He went 16-for-27 with 145 yards and one touchdown, but he engineered a 52-yard drive that set up Adam Vinatieri's game-winning field goal against the Rams.
Kaepernick has a high standard to live up to. Warner is a potential Hall of Famer. Brady is a lock to go to Canton the second he is eligible.
Who knows what the future has in store for Kaepernick?
He could turn into the next Brady or Warner. He may never duplicate the success he has had this season again. But the one thing he can say is that his name belongs alongside those other first-year starting quarterbacks to play in this game.
49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh saw the many ways that Kaepernick could beat a team. Harbaugh had the wherewithal to stand by his decision to bench Alex Smith, who was having the best season of his career, because Kaepernick's upside was much higher.
This postseason has done nothing to change that thinking. Kaepernick has shown great poise and composure, even after throwing an interception that was returned for a touchdown on his second-career postseason pass and trailing 17-0 on the road in the NFC Championship game.
Ask anyone who evaluates quarterback what the most important aspect of the game is. Almost all of them will tell you it is what goes on in your mind and how you respond to adversity.
Warner came out of nowhere to be one of the most successful quarterbacks of the last 15 years. He took chances and made mistakes, but it never bothered him because he knew what he could do.
Brady went from a sixth-round draft pick to Super Bowl MVP in one year. His poise and demeanor in that first Super Bowl win set the tone for the rest of his career.
Kaepernick has a chance to finish a dream season the same way that Warner and Brady did. Regardless of how the game turns out, he has taken advantage of the moment to prove he belongs here.
At the very least, Kaepernick is in great company and has history on his side.