Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick says he doesn't want his 2012 performance to be an "outlier" in his career. (Photo by David Welker/Getty Images)
Colin Kaepernick seems to thrive on criticism.
The more there is, the more he wants to prove it wrong.
Though he stepped in for Alex Smith as the 49ers’ starting quarterback last season and helped take the team to the Super Bowl, Kaepernick has read and heard some questions about whether he can be just as good in 2013. Some believe defenses will catch up to him.
Last season, the argument goes, teams weren’t ready for his quick feet, special play-making abilities and rocket arm. With an offseason to prepare, perhaps the rest of the NFL will figure out a way to stop him.
In the recent edition of ESPN The Magazine, Kaepernick obviously has used those arguments to fuel his drive to be even better in 2013.
“A lot of people say last year was a fluke,” Kaepernick told the magazine. “They say defenses are going to figure out how to stop our offense and we can’t do it again. That constantly drives me. Anytime I’m told I can’t do something or told someone is better than me, that motivates me to prove them wrong. It doesn’t matter what I’m playing – tic-tac-toe, chess, Monopoly – I’m playing to win.
“I don’t want last season to be an outlier. I don’t want to be one of those players who had a good year and comes back and has a bad one. I want to be similar to the Tom Bradys of the world – every year you get a great year out of them. They go out there and perform at a high level.”
To that end, it’s been widely reported this offseason that Kaepernick has been following an intense regimen of workouts and practices to sharpen his body and his football skills. He told the magazine he’s worked to increase his strength and speed. After all, he knows NFL defenders figure one way to stop him is to lay him out with big hits and keep him from running or take away his desire to break free.
Several teams this offseason have focused on preparing their defenses to stop the read-option attacks of teams such as the 49ers, Seahawks, Panthers, Redskins and Eagles that will be employing elements of the read-option in 2013.
Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith and his staff received a tutorial from the coaches at Clemson this offseason.
“I know that our coaching staff is going to spend a whole lot of time on it because it could be the wave of the future,” Smith told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I’m not saying that it will be, but that it could be.”
Which, of course, just makes Kaepernick want to be even sharper.
“I think the biggest thing for a quarterback is making sure that as you get bigger, you keep your flexibility,” he said. “You have to train hard and be strong while staying flexible and limber, so I’m trying to find that balance. I’ve been trying to make my legs stronger and more explosive and build more fast-twitch muscles. I’ve been running with bands and chains. I’ve been pushing sleds. I swim tied to a bungee. Will I be faster this year? You’ll just have to wait and see.”