The 49ers used the 36th overall pick in the recent NFL draft on 23-year-old Colin Kaepernick out of Nevada. It looks like he’s going to be groomed as the club’s future quarterback, but it’s probably going to take some time for him to develop and grow into the role. In fact, San Francisco thought so much of him they traded up from the 45th spot and gave the Denver Broncos their fourth and fifth round picks.
But with Alex Smith returning, it’s likely that Kaepernick will be brought along slowly and carefully. Give Kaepernick credit though as he said he’s going to head into training camp with the intention of competing for the starting job, no matter if he’s up against Smith, David Carr, who’s an undrafted rookie free agent, or anybody else. It’s going to be an uphill battle and the lockout is going to make it even harder if training camps are shortened.
The 6-foot-5, 230 lb. Kaepernick can speed up the process somewhat if he arrives at camp with a level of understanding about the team’s offense. If he does, it’s conceivable that he’ll earn the backup quarterback role
Head coach Jim Harbaugh will be able to groom Kaepernick during the season while he sees a limited amount of playing time behind Smith. The young 49ers quarterback has the tools to make it in the NFL since he’s very athletic and has a strong arm, as evidenced by his 4,000 rushing yards and 10,000 passing yards at school. Kaepernick is the only Division I college football player to have ever achieved those numbers and is also the only one to have thrown over 2,000 yards and rushed over 1,000 in a season three times, which he did three years running.
His list of awards and career highlights proves he can play the game, but the college level is quite a bit different than the pros. He’s shown that he can pick his read and launch the ball quickly and accurately. His career interception rate of 1.89 per cent was the lowest in the WAC in the past 10 years and he’s also got the speed and legs to break free and make plays on the go.
At the moment, Kaepernick can be viewed as a project and there’s nothing wrong with that. There’s no need to rush him into action as a raw rookie because his instincts and overall talent will see him start for the 49ers sometime down the road. It’s a better idea to let him watch and learn and gains some confidence before throwing him out on the field.
Knowing that the team traded the 45th, 108th and 141st draft picks to get him should already boost his confidence, but it could also put some pressure on him. The fans will be expecting him to prove he was worth it.