Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Colin Kaepernick has played better in his last few games.
Colin Kaepernick is a tremendous athlete with a gun for an arm. He has led the 49ers deep into the postseason for the second time, since taking over as the starter midway through the 2012 season.
Kaepernick's biggest asset is his strong arm that can deliver the mid-range and deep throws with tremendous zip on the ball. In addition, his legs are a huge asset, as Kaepernick is an excellent runner and can make big, impact plays running the football.
However, there are two main areas where Kaepernick can improve and in order to reach his full potential, he must do so.
Kaepernick sometimes has tunnel vision and locks on to his primary receiver, even when he's covered. He needs to go through his progressions more quickly when his primary target is covered. Instead, Kaepernick will sometimes try to force the ball in, or he will take off running.
Often the runs can be very effective, but Kaepernick can enhance his effectiveness by finding his secondary or tertiary receiver more quickly. A lot of film study can help Kaepernick in this regard.
The second thing Kaepernick needs to improve on is his accuracy. He completed only 58.4 percent of his passes during the regular season. This ranked Kaepernick 31st in a league with only 32 teams.
One of the reasons for his low completion rate is the lack of check-downs he will throw. Kaepernick will typically eschew his safety valve outlet and still try to make a play down the field. Sometimes this works, but frequently it does not, resulting in an incomplete pass.
Kaepernick needs to improve the touch he displays on the short swing passes to the running backs out of the backfield. There is also no coincidence that the 49ers rarely use screen passes, as Kaepernick does not make this throw very well.
In addition, accuracy is not just about completing the pass. As Steve Young learned from Joe Montana, true accuracy is being able to hit his receiver in stride, so he does not need to adjust to make a catch.
When a receiver does not have to break stride when catching a pass, his ability to gain more yards-after-the-catch is greatly enhanced. This is an area that Kaepernick also needs to improve on.
The 49ers' core group of receivers, Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin, Vernon Davis and even Quinton Patton are very good after the catch, so the better Kaepernick can become at hitting his receivers in stride, the more dangerous they will be in gaining additional yardage.
Young learned to do this and Kaepernick can also. It takes a great deal of practice, but will enhance Kaepernick's effectiveness and make the 49ers' offense much more productive.