Since winning the 49ers’ quarterback job during the 2012 season, Colin Kaepernick has at times looked like the most gifted player in the NFL.
His arm strength, competitive fire and breakaway speed as a runner are as good – or better – than any QB in the league.
But as he heads into his third season as a starter, more is expected from Kaepernick. Some members of the national media want to see Kaepernick become a more consistent playmaker. And even his head coach believes Kaepernick – as good as he’s been – hasn’t yet shown how good he will be.
Jeffri Chadiha of ESPN.com recently wrote a commentary about Kaepernick in which he stated it’s time for Kaepernick to take a big step forward in 2014.
“If he really is destined to reach elite status in this league,” he wrote, “this is the year when he needs to take a giant leap forward.”
Chadiha points to Kaepernick’s inconsistencies in 2013, when he struggled mightily in the first half of the season and the 49ers seemed on the verge of collapsing. He then rebounded in the second half to help carry his team to the NFC Championship Game.
“But he hasn’t taken his career to a level where he is above scrutiny,” wrote Chadiha. “This is a quarterback who reportedly is looking to make around $18 million-$20 million per season in his next contract. If he’s going to reap such jaw-dropping rewards, he can’t expect people to dismiss his shortcomings.”
Specifically, Chadiha points to the fact Kaepernick threw for 200 or more yards in just six of his 16 regular-season starts.
After falling short in the NFC Championship Game last season and the Super Bowl the previous season, Kaepernick appears to be driven to indeed take his game to the next level.
As usual, he’s reportedly been among the hardest-working players on the 49ers roster this offseason, and head coach Jim Harbaugh said recently that Kaepernick now looks like an even better player than he was in 2012 and 2013.
“I thought he was playing at such a high level it’s going to be tough to see incremental growth,” Harbaugh said on the KNBR “Morning Show” recently. “But I’m seeing this offseason maybe there’s going to be another big inflection point. He has that look. He has that confidence, that knowledge. (He) is in tremendous athletic shape and is throwing the ball with pinpoint accuracy.
“I’m expecting an inflection point. I’m expecting him to make great strides.”