Can Kaepernick Rebound? Based on His Summer Performance, Many in Media Are Skeptical

In opener against Vikings, Kaepernick will need to show he's a different, more polished and effective passer

When the 49ers open the 2015 season Monday night against the Minnesota Vikings, quarterback Colin Kaepernick will look decidedly different in the team’s new black, alternate uniforms.

The question is, will he play like a different quarterback than the one who regressed in 2014?

The 49ers certainly hope so, and Kaepernick himself went to great lengths during the offseason to fine-tune his techniques in weeks of sessions in Arizona with former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner.

Yet after a spotty exhibition season, the jury is still out on Kaepernick. He didn’t play much, throwing just 13 passes, completing only five for 40 yards – and being sacked three times. His quarterback rating of 47 was third among the team’s three summer QBs, behind Blaine Gabbert (108.8) and Dylan Thompson (76.8).

If Kaepernick is significantly better in 2015 than he was during the team’s 8-8 season in 2014, the 49ers could surprise those who believe the team is in for a big fall this season.

But with the opening game just days away now, there are many who believe Kaepernick’s poor summer could translate into more woes for San Francisco.

The Washington Post’s Neil Greenberg wrote recently that the 49ers’ intent to turn Kaepernick into a more effective pocket passer “could set him on a path for failure, not unlike what we saw in Washington with Robert Griffin III.”

And Sam Farmer, who covers the NFL for the Los Angeles Times, included Kaepernick in his story this week about quarterbacks who must prove in 2015 that they deserve to continue leading their franchises.

“If the exhibition season is an accurate indicator, the 49ers quarterback remains a work in progress,” wrote Farmer.

Meanwhile, Kevin Lynch, who covers the 49ers for the San Francisco Chronicle, took the time to review all of Kaepernick’s 20 drop backs during the exhibition season to see what stood out, and he came to some not-so-promising conclusions.

“The most glaring observation,” he wrote, “(was) Kaepernick’s inability to step up when he’s pressured. Often his first reaction to pressure was either to step sideways or backwards, not up in the pocket.”

Lynch also noted (among several observations) that the offensive line did a consistently poor job in providing protection and that the timing with his receivers seemed to be off.

Plus, he said, “Kaepernick is also slow in the pocket. He doesn’t bounce and he doesn’t seem to possess lateral quickness. It often leaves him in a bad position to throw, with his chest parallel to the line of scrimmage and his feet not under him.”

He noted positives, too – that when Kaepernick does set up, “good things happen.” And, that on designed roll outs, he looks sharp.

“In the opener, expect Kaepernick to roll out often,” he wrote.

Kaepernick has heard critiques of his play often over the past year, including this summer. But by all accounts he remains confident.

A good performance against the Vikings – when actual game plans are in place and starters play the entire game – will go a long way to getting Kaepernick and the offense rolling in a positive direction in 2015.

Said Kaepernick recently: “There’s no concern on this team. That’s what the preseason is for, is to work those things out and see who we have. … We’re working to make sure we’re ready for the regular season.”

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