The “I Was Wrong” Files: Colin Kaepernick

There was a time when you couldn’t tell me that Colin Kaepernick wasn’t going to be a top-five NFL quarterback.

In my eyes, he had it all. He could sling it with the best of them, it seemed to me. And he was fast on top of that – and in that order, a good passer first then a runner.

The cherry on top was this pass to tight end wide receiver Anquan Boldin in the 2014 NFC Championship game.

There’s everything you want to see in this play: Kaepernick escapes the pressure and while he’s scrambling, keeps his eyes down the field. He sees Boldin, who ran the old “beeline directly into the safety, wander into the end zone and wait for the jump ball” route, which Kaepernick delivers. This throw is on a rope, over Earl Thomas (the 3rd-ranked safety in the league this year according to Pro Football Focus) and delivered from an airborne Kapernick. This pass screams athleticism, poise and confidence.

This pass screams something entirely different.

Now, we can’t be certain that this isn’t Kaepernick throwing the ball away. I don’t think it is, because it’s third down and it looks to me like he’ll have a little more time in the pocket. And it’s not like he sailed it out of bounds, either. This ball was moving. I think Kaepernick saw his covered receiver and overthrew him by 15 yards, where the trainer’s face was wide open.

Either this trainer owed Kaepernick some money or I was way, way wrong about the 49ers quarterback. He’s gone from almost knocking the best defense we’ve seen in years – the 2013 Seahawks – out of the playoffs to almost knocking out an innocent bystander.

That’s not to rejoice in Kaepernick’s downfall. His pass against the Seahawks in the 2014 NFC Championship game is a moment that I won’t be forgetting anytime soon. It’s a monument to what Kaepernick could have been, like this play was with Robert Griffin III. In those plays, I thought I was seeing an arrival, a debut of what the next generation of quarterbacking would be. I thought this was the introduction of a new era in the NFL.

I was wrong. Either by his own faults or as a byproduct of his coaches not yet understanding how to harness Kaepernick’s unique talents, it doesn’t look like Colin Kaepernick is going to be a top-five quarterback anytime soon.

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