Colin Kaepernick: San Francisco 49ers QB Will Live Up to Hype in 2013 Campaign

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistFebruary 9, 2013

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 12:  Quarterback Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers runs the ball against strong safety Charles Woodson #21 of the Green Bay Packers during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at Candlestick Park on January 12, 2013 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

If you aren't a fan of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, 2013 is not going to be a good year for you. 

That soft roar you hear off in the distance is the inevitable hype train that will surround Kaepernick heading into the 2013 season. After leading his team to the Super Bowl in his first (half) season of starting, he will undeniably under the microscope for his second act. 

Kaepernick's athleticism and playmaking ability instantly took the 49ers from being a good team that could contend to the best team in the NFC. There's no denying that he played a huge role in the team winning the conference championship. 

However, we've seen this story before. Young quarterbacks have had huge seasons before, only to struggle mightily when asked to repeat the performance. 

Kaepernick won't be one of those quarterbacks. Here's why.


Zone Read

The zone read may be the latest annoying buzzword among NFL analysts, but that doesn't damper its effectiveness. 

When Tim Tebow and the Broncos rolled out the concept in 2011, critics scoffed and called it a "college" offense or "gimmick." The Niners and Washington Redskins showed that it is certainly a force to be reckoned with. 

The fact is, it is a college offense. But Kaepernick is a "college" quarterback. He's been running the variation of the concept that San Francisco since his days with Chris Ault at Nevada. It's what he's been successful with for years. 

Young quarterbacks often have difficulty in transitioning from the pro-level to the college level because of the switch in schemes. Much of that burden is lifted from Kaepernick because he's been running this system for a long time and has the athleticism to make it work. 


Supporting Cast

Unlike many young quarterbacks, Kaepernick won't have to shoulder the burden of the entire offense. 

He didn't single-handedly take the 49ers to the Super Bowl and he won't be expected to single-handedly take them back there. San Francisco has an elite defense that puts the 'Niners in a position to win games. 

He'll also have a full arsenal of weapons at his disposal on offense. The 'Niners have an embarrassment of riches at the running back position. Frank Gore is still playing well and can be spelled by either Kendall Hunter or LaMichael James, forming a dangerous trio in the backfield. 

Throw in the emergence of Michael Crabtree with Kaepernick under center in 2012 and Vernon Davis at tight end and San Francisco's offense won't be slowing down anytime soon. 


Arm Strength

Critics of Kaepernick will point to the fact that Kaepernick is a "running" quarterback as evidence that he will fail to live up to expectations next year. They couldn't be more wrong. 

Yes, Kaepernick has great athleticism and does damage as a runner, but to call him a running quarterback is a disservice to his abilities as a passer. 

He has incredible arm strength. Just ask Randy Moss—he told NBC Sports that a Kaepernick pass gave him his first dislocated finger. High praise from a receiver that used to play with Tom Brady

Kaepernick is an athlete, but he's a quarterback first. His ability to put plenty of zip on the ball lets him complete throws to small windows. That's a recipe for long-term success regardless of whether a quarterback can run or not.