Colin Kaepernick entered the Super Bowl with high expectations. While the San Francisco 49ers lost the game, they have to be very encouraged with what they saw from the young quarterback throughout the playoffs.
The second-year player only had nine career starts before making his Super Bowl debut. When the game started, that is exactly how he looked.
San Francisco started the game with a three-and-out drive that featured a penalty for illegal formation on the first play.
Things did not get much better in the first half. A LaMichael James fumble and an interception thrown by Kaepernick played a big part in the team being down 21-6 at halftime. There were problems with communication, time management and overall execution and it seemed like the game was headed for a blowout.
It got even worse when Jacoby Jones returned a kickoff for a touchdown to start the third quarter.
However, with a 22-point deficit and relatively poor first-half numbers, Kaepernick fought back. The young quarterback led the team to 17 unanswered points to get back into the game. Overall, the 49ers ended the game on a 25-6 run.
Most of this was due to a great second-half performance by Kaepernick. He started running the ball more often (46 rushing yards and a touchdown in the second half) and made nice throws all over the field.
He also narrowly missed Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree for long gains down the field on passes that probably should have been caught.
Although the 49ers were unable to take the lead, the fact that the game ended up being close at the end is impressive.
While Kaepernick showed a lot with his arm and his legs, his resolve is the biggest takeaway from the Super Bowl. This trait is often hard to measure, but it is very important for successful quarterbacks.
This was on display throughout the playoffs. Kaepernick threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown on the second pass of his postseason career. He then went out and had one of the best performances in NFL history with 181 rushing yards in the win over the Green Bay Packers.
Against the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship Game, the squad went down 17-0 to open the action. However, the quarterback was once again able to lead them to victory.
San Francisco head coach Jim Harbaugh made a risky decision during the year by naming Kaepernick as his starting quarterback over Alex Smith. Smith was an established player who had led the team to a 13-3 record and an appearance in the NFC Championship Game.
The move obviously paid off for this season, but it also seems like it will pay dividends in the future.
Kaepernick has everything you could look for in a starting quarterback. He is accurate with the football, has plenty of arm strength and can use his running ability as a dangerous weapon.
More importantly, he proved that he has what it takes mentally to win in this league. In his young career, he has shown that he can recover from bad plays, games and learn from his mistakes.
Going forward, the 49ers should feel confident that Kaepernick will not only bring them back to the Super Bowl, but he will win one in the near future.