Colin Kaepernick’s status as the starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers has been questioned since his breakout performance against the Chicago Bears in Week 11, but after four NFL starts opposition to the second year player has started to soften.
San Francisco’s loss to division rival St. Louis amplified the media-driven quarterback controversy between Kaepernick and Alex Smith, but to truly gauge the situation in the Bay one only needs to turn to the fans.
From the parking lot tailgate parties to the seats of Candle Stick Park, more and more 49er supporters are sporting No. 7 jerseys. These Kaepernites watched with glee as San Francisco defeated the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, and even though the 49er offense struggled in the first half, a concerted team effort and a late game highlight from the Turlocker brought everyone one step closer to accepting Kaepernick as the new face of the franchise.
But Kaepernick’s meteoric rise to football prominence isn’t unique to the league; he’s only a part of the changing of the guard at the quarterback position in the NFL. Alongside play-callers like Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, and Robert Griffin III, Kaepernick represents a new breed of slash QBs who can threaten defenses with both their arms and legs.
Nowhere was Kap’s versatility more apparent than in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game when he took a read option 50 yards for San Francisco’s third touchdown—a play that drove Deon Sanders to compare Kaepernick to Carolina’s Newton and affirm Jim Harbaugh’s decision.
Even Sergio Romo, the San Francisco Giants pitcher, has become a Kaepernick believer.
“I think he’s good and very athletic. He is an NFL quarterback,” Romo said. “Right now he’s getting an opportunity to play and he’s running with it.”
Kaepernick’s 1,073 passing yards, 349 rushing yards, and 8 combined touchdowns are good indicators of his talent but San Francisco’s upcoming game against the New England Patriots will be the true benchmark of his short NFL career.
After New England’s destruction of the Houston Texans on Monday night many football insiders consider the Patriots a viable Super Bowl team, no surprise given Bill Belichick and Tom Brady’s reputations. If Kaepernick can perform well against Belichick’s high caliber defense, the current quarterback drama in San Francisco will be a thing of the past. The reigns of Harbaugh’s offense will be securely in his hands, and 49er fans will feel better about their playoff chances with Kap under center.