The 49ers have now locked up Colin Kaepernick for the long term, and the young quarterback seems eager to prove he belongs among the elites in the NFL.
After signing his six-year extension Wednesday, Kaepernick said: “I’m going to work to make sure I’m worth every penny of this. That’s something I feel like I can do.”
Kaepernick already has done quite a bit in just one and a half seasons as a starter.
His record, including the playoffs, is 21-8 over that span, with two trips to the NFC Championship Game and one to the Super Bowl. And, since his first career start in 2012, he has the third-highest score among all QBs on ESPN’s quarterback rating formula (Total QBR), at 69.6, behind only Peyton Manning (83.3) and Aaron Rodgers (71.3).
Yet there’s one area where Kaepernick has consistently fallen short. If Kaepernick wants to prove in 2014 that he’s among the best at his position in the NFL, he’s going to have to play much better against the Seahawks and the best defense in the league.
He is 1-3 against Seattle in four starts, including the loss to the Seahawks in last season’s NFC Championship Game. In going 20-5 against all other opponents, with 35 TD throws and nine interceptions, Kaepernick has been dominant. But in four games against Seattle, he’s thrown three TD passes and been picked off seven times.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, Kaeprnick’s Total QBR rating vs. the rest of the NFL is 78.8; against Seattle it’s 36.9. His completion percentage (52.1 vs. 60.6) and yards per pass attempt (6.0 vs. 8.4) also are much lower against the Seahawks than the rest of the league.
In order for the 49ers to regain the top spot in the NFC West and get to the Super Bowl again, they’re likely going to have to figure out a way to beat the Seahawks, especially on their home field, where the 49ers have at times been overpowered. And Kaepernick is going to have to be a more accurate passer and commit fewer mistakes against a secondary that has found ways to contain him.
In speaking to the media Wednesday, Kaepernick said he’s working hard this offseason to take his game to a higher level. He wants to be a more accurate passer and consistently be a better leader and quarterback.
“Progressions, getting through reads, making better decisions in certain situations – those are always things you’re looking to improve,” he told Bay Area reporters.
On Thanksgiving night, Nov. 27, Kaepernick will get that trial by fire, when the 49ers play the Seahawks for the first time since the NFC Championship Game. San Francisco will host the game in new Levi’s Stadium at 5:30 p.m. Two games later, the 49ers will play in Seattle. How Kaepernick performs in those two games will go a long way toward determining if his name will be mentioned among the league’s elite QBs in 2014.