Nothing is wrong with Colin Kaepernick

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Over the past several weeks, I’ve had about 801 conversations with NFL fans about Colin Kaepernick. The exchanges ultimately come down to this:

Person 1: I just don’t get it.

Me: Get what?

Person 1: What’s wrong with Colin Kaepernick.

Me: I don’t think anything’s wrong with Colin Kaepernick.

Person 1: Confused look.

Me: Equally confused look.

Here’s the thing: Nothing is wrong with Colin Kaepernick, just as nothing was wrong with Kevin Maas when he started seeing a steady diet of curveballs, and nothing was wrong with Jeremy Lin when teams began backing off and letting him brick outside jumpers, and nothing was wrong with Shane Spencer after his first few months as a Yankee and Bo Kimble after a few games as a Clipper and Tyrell Biggs after his first few fights. Nothing has to be wrong with you—from a mechanical standpoint, from a mental standpoint, from an approach standpoint—for opponents to have you figured out.

And that’s what’s truly “wrong” with Colin Kaepernick: Opponents have figured him out.

Back in 2012, when he burst on the scene, replaced Alex Smith and guided the 49ers to the Super Bowl, Kaepernick was a knuckler in the wind. Nobody knew how to handle his unique mixture of speed/arm strength/field vision. He was this blur of a quarterback—too fast for a conventional pass rush, too strong-armed to overload the line with blitzing linebackers and/or safeties. Teams used to facing the conventional Smith were suddenly hit with a Michael Vick/Craig Morton hybrid—and they were utterly baffled. Yes, Kaepernick played wonderfully. But opponents played tentatively, looking at the San Francisco quarterback as one would a strange spider on the ledge. What do I do with this thing?

Gradually, however, teams adjusted. They figured Kaepernick out. Little things. Tendencies. Make him throw on the run, and his accuracy withers. Has limited ability to pass across the field. Spotty vision. Crummy decision-making skills under duress. On and on and on. Before long, teams knew exactly how to play Colin Kaepernick, and Colin Kaepernick failed to change, react, adapt. He’s the same guy with the same moves, digging from the same hole, and it’s not working. At this point, the man Ron Jaworski predicted would become the greatest quarterback in NFL history looks a helluva lot like the second coming of Tony Eason. Not a good thing.

What’s the solution? Not sure there is one. All players are scouted; all teams do their homework. But, as of this moment, Colin Kaepernick doesn’t strike me as a guy willing to do what it takes to change and improve and morph. Which, I suppose, is fine. He’s financially comfortable (Beats By Dre put a lot of change in his pocket) and will always be given a second and third chance, based on athleticism alone.

But will he ever become what we all thought he’d become?

Did Steve Pisarkiewicz?

2 thoughts on “Nothing is wrong with Colin Kaepernick”

  1. The only thing wrong with Kaepernick is he plays for a team that is constantly trying to turn him into something he is not, while systematically destroying the team around him. He is so screwed up mentally now, it is unlikely he’ll ever have any success in SF again. I’d love to see him somewhere else, where the organization will support him. Meanwhile, it appears the league has figured out Andrew Luck, too, right?

    1. I’ve always been a big believer that there are very few QBs who can thrive anywhere. Maybe Elway, maybe Marino, maybe the young Peyton Manning. Everybody else REALLY needs to luck into the right situation, with an adaptable coach who can recognize what they can do, and mold his system to fit those talents.

      Two of the all-time greatest,Joe Montana and Tom Brady, really needed to be in the right situation. By that I mean only that Montana would have been ruined by any other offensive system around at the time, and would have been out of the league posthaste. Bill Walsh’s offense accommodated his undeniable talents, and allowed him to be great. And boy, was he great., Ditto for Brady. On any other team, in any other system, he might well have been a bench player for his entire, short career. Instead, just look at him in Belichick’s system at 38 YEARS OLD.

      This is not to demean either QB as a mere “system player.” Both are among the greatest of all-time. But the genius of Walsh and Belichick was/is that they have their own systems, but they can adapt to enhance the talent they have, rather than do what everybody else does, which is force the players to change their games to fit into a rigid system.

      As for Luck, maybe you’re right. But just maybe he’s not being well-served by his GM, who keeps making some of the most boneheaded personnel moves imaginable, and has apparently decided that an O-line just isn’t something that an NFL QB really needs; or by his head coach, who, now that the emotional lift from his battle with cancer and his ability to lean on Bruce Arians are both gone, is showing weekly why he had to wait so long to become a head coach. And not for nothing, but I haven’t seen anything this season to support the mania surrounding Pep Hamilton, who is for some unfathomable reason deemed one of the hottest prospects to be somebody’s head coach soon.

      Think maybe at least a few of those INTs might not happen if (a) Luck had a credible running game and (b) he had the time an NFL QB normally gets to make a play? Neither is on him. But what does the brain trust say when asked about how he’s getting mugged regularly out there? I quote: “[The crappy O-line] has been the case for three years now, has it not? He should be more than comfortable dealing with it.” This is a leader of men?

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