Colin Kaepernick, fantasy beast, prepares for second season as starter (USAT Images)
When Alex Smith lost his starting job to Colin Kaepernick last season, he had actually completed 25 of his previous 27 throws, tossing four touchdown passes and no interceptions. Smith was playing the best football of his eight-year NFL career. He had helped lead the Niners to the conference title game the prior season, where they dropped a heart-breaker in OT to the eventual Super Bowl champs. No shame in that. Without question, Smith had reached an extremely high level, arguably maxing out his talent.
And still it was brutally obvious that Smith needed to sit in favor of Kaepernick — no question, zero doubt. Because Colin Kaepernick is a bad [expletive], and he added dimensions to the Niners' offense that were never going to exist with Smith at the controls.
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From the moment Kaepernick took the field in his first career start — facing the Bears defense on Monday night, no less — he made tight-window throws with velocity, and he made 'em look easy. He kept his running to a minimum against Chicago (4-10-0), but he was a dual-threat nightmare over his next three games, rushing for 164 yards and two TDs on 21 carries. Kaepernick ran the zone-read like he was born into the scheme. When single-coverage opportunities arose downfield for receivers, he fired away, unafraid. In Kaepernick's first postseason start, he passed for 263 yards and two scores, plus he rushed for 181 yards — one-eighty-one — and two additional touchdowns. He was an efficient passer in the regular season (8.3 Y/A) and even better in the playoffs (10.0).
Kaepernick brought the Niners to within five yards of a championship last February. I'm not about to declare that he can't take his team to a title this season, no matter the track record of Super Bowl runner-ups. Again: This is a bad, bad dude.Read More »from Juggernaut Index, No. 5: The San Francisco 49ers