Two years. Two years of San Francisco 49ers football have ended in heartbreak. Two years of hard work have ended with one play: A back corner pass to Michael Crabtree. The first occurrence was in Super Bowl XLVII, Kaepernick tried to squeeze the pass into a tiny window but couldn’t. 49ers turn the ball over and the Baltimore Raverns win. People were fine with that. It was Kaepernick’s first year and he had piloted the team to the Super Bowl. The second occurrence was not so easily written off. Kaepernick had made the same mistake again. He again tried to fit the ball into a very tight window in the back corner of the endzone to Crabtree. The result was the same: 49ers lose possession and the Seattle Seahawks get a chance to go to the Super Bowl. Why were people more unforgiving this time? Kaepernick had shown little growth. In his previous year, poor decision making was attributed to what was essentially his first year playing games. When the same mistakes popped up again in his second year, people raised eyebrows. Two things prevent Kaepernick from being a franchise quarterback that would take the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl year in and year out: his decision making and his tendency to run.
The first improvement that Kaepernick needs is his decision making. He needs to find his target quickly and pass accurately. Indecision plagued Kaepernick this year(2013-2014). He held on the ball to long and was sacked thirty nine times in sixteen games; more than twice the number of times he was sacked the previous year (sixteen times in thirteen games)(nfl.com). Crabtree was out for many of the games this year but Kaepernick should have still been able to let the ball go and should have given his receivers a chance. Kaepernick’s interceptions were also up from 3 in 2013 to 8 in 2014(nfl.com). Too many times in the season did he try to fit the ball into a tight space and and was picked off. Had it not been for the staunch 49er defense, the 49ers would have lost more games than they did. Kaepernick needs to take the responsibility of winning into his own hands and put the ball in the right place.
Tendency to run
Kaepernick must learn to stick to the pocket and let the play develop if no option is immediately available. Kaepernick has a tendency to run when the pocket collapses. While this is fine right now, because he can outrun defenders, Kaepernick will really pay the price later in his career. As he ages, he probably will lose the ability to outrun the defenders and will start to get hit. As the hits pile on, so will the injuries. Not only that, as Kaepernick continues to run, he will gradually lose his unpredictability. Teams will study his running patterns on film and will put preventative measures in place. Once these are put in, Kaepernick will not have room to run and will take hits, increasing his chance for injury. Kaepernick must train himself to stay in the pocket and throw the ball away of necessary. Not only will that potentially save him from injury, it could save the 49ers from losing yards.
Is Colin Kaepernick a franchise quarterback that will take the 49ers to the Super Bowl year in and year out? No. However he does have a good chance if he develops further. Once his decision making improves and his tendency to run goes down, Kaepernick will definitely be an elite quarterback that can put his team in Super Bowl contention.