At one point early this spring, 49ers tight end Vernon Davis saw quarterback Colin Kaepernick throwing to receivers and was baffled.
“I didn’t even know that was Colin,” he told reporters in April. Kaepernick, having spent time in Arizona with former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner and another coach, had refined his footwork, his delivery and worked to develop more touch on his throws. After seeing Kaepernick for the first time, Davis told the media, “He looks like a totally different guy.”
But until 49ers fans see Kaepernick in action during exhibition games in August, it’s going to be difficult to judge exactly how different Kaepernick will be. Certainly, all eyes will be on him during training camp to see if he’s a more polished, effective quarterback than the one he was in 2014, when he took a step back. Observers reported he showed a more efficient, quicker release on his throws, and more touch.
But this week, Warner provided more insight about Kaepernick’s changes in a radio interview on 95.7 The Game.
He also said he’s certain Kaepernick will be a better QB in 2015.
“He’s a hard worker, he wants to be great,” Warner said, according to a transcript of the interview posted on the Niners Nation website. “And I think that’s where it all starts.”
Among the specifics to expect in Kaepernick’s play this season, according to Warner:
* He’ll be more comfortable in the pocket. Warner said Kaepernick’s natural tendency is to throw on the move. “That’s where he’s most at home,” said Warner. But they worked on his setup in the pocket, which will allow him to be more patient and make his reads more effectively. That should allow for what Warner calls “layups,” or short, easy throws that keep the team moving down the field.
* He’ll stay in the pocket longer on pass plays before looking to run.
* Improved touch. Kaepernick has great arm strength, but hasn’t always been consistent at taking something off short throws or lofting the ball in between defenders with touch. In drills in Arizona, Kaepernick spent a lot of time on that aspect of his game. “If you throw with touch and can lay the ball out there and allow these great receivers to adjust, slow down, to jump up and get the ball, to adjust their route a little bit, it gives the ability to complete passes and it makes the position so much easier,” said Warner.
* Better offensive game plans. Warner believes the 49ers coaches will tailor the offense more to Kaepernick’s talents and give him plays that will make him successful and breed confidence. That will allow him to make “those everyday plays” that will be near automatic.
* More balance. With more comfort in the pocket, Kaepernick should develop as a passer, said Warner. “That will complement all the other things that he does so well,” said Warner. “And I thnk that’s what’s going to make him great.”
Through organized team activities (OTAs) and the recent full-squad minicamp, Kaepernick, too, has been enthusiastic about his play, his teammates and the new coaching situation. This past week, Kaepernick said all the changes made on the team and organization over the past few months will be “for the good.”
“I feel very confident in our team,” he said. “I feel people are writing us off, but for us, that’s all right.”
He sounds ready to prove that he, and the 49ers, will quickly get back on track.