BY: Eric Uribe
Clutch wins prove Kap’s eliteness
Tied playoff game. Seventy-three seconds on the clock. Third and 8 at the opposing team’s 38-yard line. Four-degree weather (seventh coldest game in NFL history) on the road in a hostile environment.
That’s the situation Colin Kaepernick faced earlier this year as his 49ers faced Green Bay. How’d the Nevada alumnus respond? An 11-yard scramble to set up a game-winning field goal.
Amid the frozen tundra of historic Lambeau Field, Kaepernick stared the Packers defense — with a sleeveless shirt and gloveless hands no less — and didn’t flinch. Like his entire NFL career up to this point, no moment has been to big for the 26 year old.
That play — and the entire go-ahead drive — exemplified why Kaepernick is an elite NFL quarterback. It highlighted Kaepernick’s second-to-none athleticism and ability to will his squad to victory — something he’s done all too often in his one-season-and-a-half as a starting signal caller.
First things first, let’s define an “elite” quarterback. I measure a player’s “eliteness” by four categories: winning, clutch play, playoff performances and talentTwenty-one. That’s the number of wins Kaepernick has racked up as a starter. Twenty-one wins to a meager eight losses.
In football, success is gauged by wins — any other statistic is a distant second. Kaepernick’s winning percentage of 72 in that span is topped only by Peyton Manning and Russell Wilson, who meet in the Super Bowl on Sunday.
In the winning category for elite quarterbacks, put a check mark for Kaepernick.
Eight. That’s the number of game-winning drives Kaepernick has led. Kaepernick gives meaning to the tried-and-true adage “games are won in the fourth quarter.”
The only quarterbacks with more game-winning drives in the past two seasons are Wilson (12), Andrew Luck (12), Joe Flacco (9), Matt Ryan (9) and Tony Romo (9). Of course, let’s remember Kaepernick didn’t start the first nine games of the 2012 campaign.
Besides the aforementioned example against the Packers, last season’s NFC Championship is another textbook comeback by Kaepernick. In a 17-point hole to Atlanta on the road, Kaepernick never flinched, punching San Francisco’s Super Bowl ticket for the first time in 18 years.
Need another example of clutch play? Kaepernick willed the 49ers back from a 22-point deficit in last year’s Super Bowl. If not for questionable play calling by Jim Harbaugh on the game’s final drive and a no-call pass interference, Kaepernick would own a championship ring.
Clutchess? Check mark.
181 yards. That’s the NFL record for rushing yards by a quarterback Kaepernick shattered against Green Bay in the 2012 playoffs. Kaepernick’s four-touchdown performance in that game carried San Francisco to victory.
This jaw-dropping play, along with the rest of that 2012 playoff run and this season’s wild-card game vs. the Packers, proves Kaepernick ups his game come the postseason.
Elevated performance in playoff games? Another check mark for Kaepernick.
The last category separating Kaepernick from eliteness is talent. Let’s be real, is there any debate here?
4.53. That’s Kaepernick’s 40-yard dash time — better than other scrambling quarterbacks like Wilson, Luck and Cam Newton.
Outside of Robert Griffin III and Michael Vick, no starting quarterback is as fast as Kaepernick. One big difference Eric Uribe can be reached at between Kaepernick, RG3 and Vick. Kaepernick stands at six-foot-four and weighs 230 pounds.
While Vick and RG3’s small frames have led to injury-plagued careers, Kaepernick has never suffered a significant injury. Dating back to his days with Nevada, during which Kaepernick racked up more than 4,000 rushing yards, he’s never missed a start due to injury — a true iron man.
As much as Kaepernick’s gazelle-esque strides give NFL defenses nightmares, his laser arm can’t be ignored either. Just ask future Hall of Fame-receiver Randy Moss, who dislocated a finger catching a Kaepernick fastball. Speaking of fastball, Kaepernick, who was drafted by the Chicago Cubs out of high school, clocked an 87 mile-per-hour fastball at a Giants baseball game last summer.
The big question in NFL circles is will the read-option offense which Kaepernick runs to a tee revolutionize the NFL? I believe schemes don’t revolutionize football — players do. And Kaepernick has the talent to do that.
Talent? Kaepernick passes with flying colors.
There you have it, Kaepernick is in the short list of elite NFL quarterbacks. The elite qualities — rocket arm, uncanny athleticism, leadership and fearless demeanor in big-time situations — are obvious. Experience and the mental instincts that come with it are the biggest thing holding Kaepernick from unprecedented heights. Once that comes, watch out, NFL.
BY: Leo Beas
Cut the Kraepernick: Overrated
Why the sudden change?
Three costly turnovers in the final 11 minutes of the game is a huge reason. His biggest problem is staring down his receivers. I understand he’s a young quarterback trying to find himself, but making the same mistake over and over has gotten old.
People love talking about his rocket-laser arm, but all I see are inconsistent throws on Sundays. He still hasn’t developed a back-shoulder fade or jump fade throw, which has cost him two of the biggest games of his young career.
Last year in the Super Bowl, he overthrew Michael Crabtree on a jump fade in the end zone with the championship on the line and didn’t give Crabtree a chance to make a play on it. Against the Seahawks, he underthrew a fade to Crabtree, who had Richard Sherman covering him.
The result was an interception. He should take notes on Aaron Rodgers’ smooth back shoulder fades to Jordy Nelson.
Another issue with Kaepernick is his inability to read coverages by defenses. The reason for that is he takes too long deciding whether to run or pass. Defenses love putting eight players in the box because they understand Kaepernick’s struggles in delivering the ball to his receivers.
The 49ers passing attack was surpassed by the 24th ranked Oakland Raiders, which is embarrassing because the Raiders had three different quarterbacks playing last season. The 49ers finished 30th in the NFL.
Yes this is not a joke.
The 49ers were led by Kaepernick’s “powerful arm,” which had Vernon Davis, arguably the best tight end in the game, and a Super Bowl-champion Anquan Boldin to throw to the entire season. He also had Frank Gore, who is one of the best catching running backs in the NFL, to use as an outlet. Therefore, I don’t want to hear excuses.
He finished with only eight interceptions in the regular season, which is relatively solid. However, let’s talk about two games that really stood out to me — Monday Night Football against the Redskins, where he threw a questionable pass into coverage and the linebacker dropped a pick six.
The other was the NFC wild-card game against the Green Bay Packers. He threw another horrible pass into coverage and Micah Hyde dropped the pick six.
There are countless games where he could’ve easily thrown multiple pick sixes, but luck was on his side. And it ran out last weekend against the Seahawks. His true colors shined in his most important game of the season.
The turnovers racked up like Lil Wayne and Drake counting their money. These are only some of the reasons why Kaepernick is not a top-10 quarterback yet.
To be considered part of the upper-echelon quarterbacks in this league, you have to be able to make your teammates better and he doesn’t do that.
Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are elite because they bring out the best in their teammates. It’s interseting to think what they would’ve done if they had Kaepernick’s weapons on offense and that vicious defense?
The quarterback position should be the strongest on a team and I truly believe he is one of the weakest links on the 49ers right now. He was blessed to be put in this position of having such a solid rushing attack and a top-five defense because if he didn’t, it would’ve been a long year for San Francisco.
I make this analogy a lot: put Kaepernick behind center on the Redskins or the Raiders and I promise they don’t make the playoffs. Now if you put Peyton Manning or Aaron Rodgers on those teams, they’d make the playoffs, barring injury.
It’s not rocket science — Kaepernick needs to improve in many areas of his game in order to take a step forward next season.
People may call me a hater, but I’m not because I WANT Kaepernick to be successful. I have to call it the way it is. I hope he proves me wrong next season and becomes a top-10 quarterback, but I doubt it.
These 16 quarterbacks are better than Kaepernick right now: Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, Andrew Luck, Joe Flacco, Tony Romo, Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan, Jay Cutler, Matthew Stafford, Cam Newton, Russell Wilson and yes, Alex Smith, who made the Pro Bowl this season is a better quarterback right now.
I can’t deny that Kaepernick has all the tools to be elite, but to call him elite at this stage of his career is ludicrous.