We’ve made it to the end of the 93rd season of the National Football League and we have an intriguing match-up going into Super Bowl XLVII. Do you realize Colin Kaepernick is about to become the quarterback with the fewest starts to start a Super Bowl?? The fewest starts for a Super Bowl quarterback was 11 by Roger Staubach going into game number VI. Next Sunday will be Colin’s 8th. Much like Staubach, Kaepernick runs the football yet his are more out of design than by a flaw of not reading the defense.
We have a saying around here: “At some point you have to believe what your eyes are showing you.” Going into the playoffs his statistics were no different than Alex Smith’s and there were two schools of thought. We made the case for not rolling over the plan to start Kaepernick so late in the season for fear it would come back to haunt the Niners in a playoff game if they fell behind. Well staring up at a 17-0 deficit to Atlanta in the NFC Championship a week after being down 7-0 to Green Bay has put an answer to that. He has been cool under fire but at the conclusion of the regular season, Smith had a better completion percentage (70.2%-62.4%) and touchdowns (13-10) with the same 218 attempts on the season. We wrote our countenances down but Kaepernick has performed in the playoffs. There was nothing outside of 49er practices that indicated what we were about to see in the upcoming playoffs. Listening to 49er fans doesn’t count, assess the situation. Facts are facts.
However that’s old news as he water-tortured the Packers defense to the tune of 444 yards both rushing and receiving in the divisional round of the playoffs. It was an exhibition of why you can’t just line up in man to man, rush four and allow #7 to break containment accounted for. His 181 yard record-setting rushing performance was a lightning in a bottle situation. What was most impressive was in the NFC Championship he hardly ran at all as he went 16 of 21 for 233 yards and a touchdown. He showed maturity in staying within the game plan which called for him not to run. In fact if you paid attention to the offensive play calling, it was pretty traditional until they got into the red-zone where they would then go to “The Pistol”.
Back in 2001 on ESPN, it was Steve Young who asked “Who would be the genius to come up with the next NFL offensive craze to take advantage of these more mobile quarterbacks?” citing the “West Coast” offense had become passe’. Let’s face facts, there hasn’t been a team running that offense in its normal sense in about 15 years. It never had been an offense of multiple receiver sets or even the shotgun formation. Yet here we are where the quarterback is a part of the running game again. Now it has become 11 v. 11 again and it will be some time before teams catch on how to defend it. With the emergence of RGIII, Russell Wilson, and Kapernick the NFL has turned a corner with a new offensive style.
With one more win, Roger Staubach will be removed from the record book as the quarterback with the fewest starts to win a Super Bowl. It took Joe Montana 3 years to win his first Super Bowl in 1981, and took Steve Young 5 to win his first. How big will Colin’s legend grow with a win on Sunday as a 49er?? Ironically his rise is more reminiscent of Staubach’s than any 49er quarterback. In 1970 the Cowboys made it to Super Bowl V with Craig Morton the undisputed starter yet came up short. The following year Tom Landry started tinkering with the offense and wanted his mobile young QB to take some game time snaps. First a few plays here and there and then he was made the starter at the mid-season point. Sounds familiar doesn’t it??
The first thing he has to do is not let the magnitude of the Super Bowl overwhelm him. He is very cool under pressure and always has been dating back to his days at Nevada. It was there when the bright lights of ESPN where there to follow the #3 ranked Boise St Broncos in their last game to claim a shot at the National Championship game. However it was his #19 Wolfpack that defeated them 34-31 in the best college game of 2010 and a WAC showcase for he and Doug Martin. It was his school’s biggest win in team history. He now has shown to not have the magnitude of the NFL playoffs get to him. Will the pressure get to him for the Super Bowl??
While he hasn’t shown a penchant to let the pressures get to him he has to go through the whole of media week and the two-week spectacle in New Orleans. History says a young player will feel that pressure, and he will be facing future Hall of Famers Ed Reed and Ray Lewis on Sunday. If he can stare down Ray Lewis, who will be playing his last game in the Super Bowl, how big will his legend grow??
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