Terrell Suggs doesn’t like quarterbacks very much, but he’s had a change of heart about Colin Kaepernick since facing off with the rising star in Super Bowl XLVII.
In an interview on The Jim Rome Show on Friday, Feb. 8, Suggs talked with host Jim Rome about the second-year quarterback who nearly led his 49ers past the Ravens on Feb. 3. He had some surprising things to say:
Going into the game, I thought it was all hype. He’s only had nine starts and then I’m going down the line at the teams he’s playing and I’m like "OK, alright, he’s got some good stats, but we will see." ... When you go in there and you’re playing a guy like that, I hate quarterbacks, but that kid is the truth and I have the utmost respect for him.
That’s big praise coming from one of the fiercest pass-rushers in the NFL. Suggs’ job is to make quarterbacks pay for holding the football, and he’s done it as well as anyone in his 10-year career with Baltimore.
The 2011 Defensive Player of the Year has recorded 84.5 career sacks and has always been a vocal leader for his team. He plays with swagger and the mentality that no one is going to get in his way, and the self-professed “Ball So Hard University” alum typically doesn’t have much good to say about opposing signal-callers.
Suggs has never been quiet about his opinions. After beating the New England Patriots in this year's AFC Championship Game, Suggs went on a rant about how “arrogant” Bill Belichick and his organization are. He also called out the people who picked against his Ravens in that game (as quoted by Clifton Brown of SportingNews.com):
We know you all had (the Patriots) picked to win. Unfortunately, the bandwagon is full, and we want you all to come in two weeks and bet against us again.
That’s exactly what happened prior to the Super Bowl. The 49ers were favorites to win their sixth Lombardi Trophy in as many tries, and after a Baltimore second-half stumble, Kaepernick and his 49ers nearly pulled off a miraculous comeback.
Kaepernick earned his praise from Suggs. He threw for 302 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 62 yards and another score. Suggs could barely get close to the ultra-mobile signal-caller, tallying just two tackles in the game.
Given the difficult personnel decisions Baltimore faces this offseason, Suggs may have to play a much bigger role on defense next year. Paul Kruger, the Ravens' leading pass-rusher, will be a free agent (as will inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe), and Ray Lewis—the man who was always Baltimore’s best on-field leader—announced he will retire this offseason.
He had some nice things to say about Kaepernick, but T-Sizzle will have to bottle the niceties away next season if he is to return to top form and lead a defense in need of quality veteran leadership going forward.