Colin Kaepernick's first taste of the Super Bowl may not have been sweet, but just watch. In 2014, with the cold winds ripping through open-aired MetLife Stadium, the dynamic quarterback is going to lead the San Francisco 49ers to their first championship since the 1994 season.
The team already has the right attitude towards next season, even though they did lose a tough one to the Baltimore Ravens. Even Kaepernick himself has shown the focus and determination of a leader, telling Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle, "We will be back."
Kaepernick may be young at just 25 years old, but showed remarkable poise when called upon to replace Alex Smith this season. Granted, were it not for Smith's suffering a concussion against the St. Louis Rams in Week 10, we probably would not be talking about the former Nevada star today. Heck, for all we know, the 49ers might not have even made the Super Bowl, as was the case last year with Smith at helm.
But that's not the case. Kaepernick did a great job of coming off the bench and carrying his team to the game that matters the most. He's going to use his limited experience as a starter this season to learn how to be an even better one next year.
That isn't to say that Kaepernick was bad this season by any means. In fact, he was borderline great. He threw for 10 touchdowns, rushed for five, and completed 62.4 percent of his passes and played well in the postseason. In terms of his style of play, there is little work to be done.
In reality, all that Kaepernick really needs to do is continue to play a focused and balanced game while also learning how to read the schemes of teams whose philosophy is all about defense. Against those types of squads this past season, Kaepernick went 2-2, including San Francisco's Super Bowl loss to Baltimore.
He needs to shake off the loss quickly, but Kaepernick's real work will begin once the 49ers' schedule for next season is finalized. At that point, he must watch tape of every opponent's defense and figure out their weaknesses and how to exploit them, be it through the air or on the ground.
Kaepernick must also be in constant communication with head coach Jim Harbaugh, who spent 14 seasons in the NFL as a quarterback and has plenty of experiences to share. By being open to continually learning and making himself a better player, the sky will be the limit for San Francisco next season.
That will also mark the third season that Harbaugh is manning the sidelines for the 49ers. He led the team to the NFC Championship Game his first season, only to lose an overtime heartbreaker to the eventual champion New York Giants. Harbaugh managed to lead his team to the Super Bowl this season, only to come five yards short of a touchdown that could have iced the game.
As the old adage goes, the third time is the charm and that can be the case for the 49ers next season. Kaepernick must be ready and remain focused, refusing to let opposing defenses intimidate him.
Given how coachable Kaepernick is, keep an eye out for San Francisco raising the Vince Lombardi Trophy over their heads this time next year.