When Colin Kaepernick stepped under center for the first time under center late back in the middle of the 2012 season, expectations were tempered. After all, how much could fans, front office people, coaches, and even the players themselves expect from someone who had little in the way of experience of playing quarterback at the highest level. It’s fair to say that Kaepernick has far exceeded those people’s expectations. Kaepernick and the rest of the 49ers took off once he began getting regular reps under center. He was stepping in for Alex Smith, a former first round bust who had begun to make good on the money invested in him by leading the team to the brink of the Super Bowl the year before, but an injury forced him out of the lineup. As good as Smith was, the offense really responded in a different way to the much more dynamic and explosive Kaepernick, and the team rode it all the way to a game farther than what they had reached the year before. It was a magical run for sure, and one that 49er fans surely hold dear to their hearts.
Attributing much of last year’s postseason success solely to the efforts of Colin Kaepernick seems to undersell the work that was done by his teammates, but that’s missing the point of course. The team was already very good prior to the emergence of Kaepernick, but it was his ultimate addition to the fold that allowed the team to finally climb over the hump and reach the title game, but what was it about the young quarterback’s play that really made such a difference in that late run? The answer to that question can be discovered most easily through comparing the skills of Kaepernick and Smith, the quarterback he replaced.
The comparison can begin with the admittedly unscientific eye test, but even just through this method of evaluation, it already becomes evident just how different the two players actually are. Kaepernick is the cannon-armed and fleet-footed quarterback who can cause problems for the defense in so many ways, while Smith is the more vanilla player, opting only for safer passing routes that do work over time but offer very little in the form of threat that defenses really have to shudder in fear of. Simply put, Kaepernick made the offense more dangerous purely through his play, and that was an element that just wasn’t present with Smith. The offense also began to take on a whole new look under Kaepernick, an almost indefensible change to a gameplan especially when executed at a late juncture in the season. That distinct change in the team’s method of attack allowed the team to gravitate towards a more adventurous offense, and one that certainly took advantage of the skills possessed by the players on the roster.
Colin Kaepernick is very much going to be the most important element to the 49ers’ upcoming season, and how he handles the job full-time right from the start can go a long way towards determining whether or not the team will be hoisting hardware at the end of the year.
The San Francisco 49ers would be playing against the Minnesota Vikings on the 25th. You can catch this pre-season game by getting your San Francisco 49ers tickets from Ticket Broker today.
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