If you’re from Turlock and you haven’t heard of Colin Kaepernick you must be living under a rock. In only his second year in the NFL, San Francisco’s backup quarterback and Pitman High’s greatest athletic export has jumped onto the national media’s radar, confirming what a lot of locals have known for some time — Kap can play.
Of course, Kaepernick proved his ability at the University of Nevada where he passed for over 10,000 yards and rushed for more than 4,000 yards; earning awards such as the WAC Freshman of the Year, WAC Offensive Player of the Year, 1st Team WAC All Conference Quarterback, and the Humanitarian Bowl MVP, but people tend to care more about professional accomplishments.
While not every Turlocker might have been aware of Kaepernick’s collegiate feats, former NFL quarterback and current 49er head coach Jim Harbaugh took notice, trading up in the 2011 NFL draft to pick him 36th overall. Now, in his sophomore season, Kaepernick has started to show the rest of the league why Harbaugh brought him on board. For the past couple years Tim Tebow and the Wildcat offense have garnered constant media coverage but Kaepernick and his team opted for a more subtle route, quietly forming their own package designed to provide offensive versatility.
Ironically, it was Week 4 against Tebow and the Jets when the “WildKap” offense was unleashed. Kaepernick took five carries for 50 yards and scored his first NFL touchdown in the 34-0 victory over New York. Kaepernick was at it again the following week against Buffalo, scoring his second career touchdown and rushing for 39 yards on four carries as his team beat the Bills 45-3.
Kaepernick’s appearance against the New York Giants in Week 6 saw the quarterback using his arm more, throwing four completions for 82 yards, but as a whole the offensive outing wasn’t up to par with the previous two weeks. The 49ers failed to score a touchdown and starting quarterback Alex Smith threw three interceptions. The loss and Smith’s performance spurred heated debate on cable TV networks and the Internet about Kaepernick’s role on the offense and his potential to be a starter. The discussion excited football fans in the Central Valley, leading many to speculate about Thursday night’s game against Seattle and the amount of playing time he might receive. Kaepernick was unaffected though.
“I don’t pay attention to any of that; it’s really up to the coaches,” Kaepernick said. “I’m a quarterback and they put me in when they want.”
As it turns out Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman opted to limit Kaepernick’s role, disappointing his followers. Per usual, Kaepernick was summoned to the huddle inside the red zone where he attempted to recreate the play with which he scored his first touchdown. Unfortunately, the Seahawks’ defense knew what everyone in the stadium knew; Kaepernick was running left. He was tackled for a one yard loss on his only carry of the game.
“I’m just trying to get on the field as much as I can,” Kaepernick said.
Although Thursday didn’t go as many had hoped, 49er fans and Turlockers still see Kaepernick as the quarterback of the future. When asked about his grasp on the offense and his confidence as an offensive leader, Kaepernick had only one thing to say, “I’m very ready.”
Kaepernick may get the chance to improve on his 111 yards of rushing, 89 passing yards, and two touchdowns on Monday Night Football against the Arizona Cardinals.