Thus far, we've taken a look at Aldon Smith and Chris Culliver, and what the best and worst case scenarios are for their immediate future with the San Francisco 49ers. In the most recent post, we established that Culliver doesn't necessarily have high expectations out of the third round, but that he does have potential, and therefore could end up being a starter. On the other hand, most folks who consider him a reach could be proved right, and the talent doesn't line up well with where he was drafted, or he could just end up ... you know ... not very good.
Somebody asked me why I skipped over Colin Kaepernick initially, and my answer to that is pretty simple: I just did. Our own nocal81 just put together a post taking a look at a couple scouting reports and drawing conclusions from those, so go ahead and read up on that for more on Kaepernick and what he has to offer. Personally, I was elated when the 49ers moved up to the 34th pick in the draft to select him (even more elated when they only gave up fourth and fifth round picks, as opposed to the second and third that the New England Patriots were asking for at 33) and have high expectations for him going forward.
That being said, let's take a look at the best and worst case scenarios for Kaepernick
Best Case Scenario: Kaepernick progresses well, is ready to start if need-be
It's really hard to determine what would be a best-case scenario for Kaepernick. He wants to play as soon as he possibly can, but is that necessarily the best thing for him? I don't think I can say if that would necessarily be bad for him, but I don't think it's a stretch to say that the best-case is simply that he can start if need be. Many consider his potential to be the highest of any quarterback in this draft class, and you can count me among them, but he still is raw and is fighting an uphill battle against Alex Smith who, let's not kid ourselves, will return in 2011.
Smith has a playbook, and Kaepernick allegedly does not (who knows if he got one from another player), and Smith also has experience learning a new offense. I mean, a lot of experience, as it happens - Smith has seen a revolving door of offensive coordinators over the course of his NFL career. So, while it's possible that Kaepernick comes though, shows his stuff in the preseason and beats Smith for the starting role, it's not likely.
So again, just the fact that he could possibly be ready to play in 2011 would be a great sign, and illustrate a best-case scenario. However, a scenario in which he is put in there likely means Smith has lost the 49ers some games up until that point, so maybe it's best that Kaepernick doesn't see the field in 2011. Either way, it would be nice to see the kid improve at a quicker rate than most believe he can.
Worst Case Scenario: Kaepernick struggles to learn an NFL playbook, does not respond well to playing time
Maybe his arm strength is all he's got at this point ... maybe all he can do is take the ball and run, with no accuracy or ability to run any facet of the west coast offense. Maybe Kaepernick is unfit mentally to grasp the complexities of an NFL playbook and he has to run one that's more limited .. perhaps all he can handle is a college offense. Maybe Jim Harbaugh is forced to use the pistol in lieu of everything else because Kaepernick just can't keep up.
They're all valid scenarios, as is always the case with a rookie quarterback. The worst case scenario is that Kaepernick looks completely inept during the preseason and or does not show potential when thrust into the starting role in the regular season, be it due to Smith's benching or perhaps a serious injury (not out of the realm of possibility with Smith's history).
If Kaepernick sees the field and he doesn't look like an immediate Pro Bowler, do not fret - the guy will be raw all season no matter what happens. But this worst case scenario is that Kaepernick shows absolutely nothing with his time on the field, looking every bit like Jimmy Clausen did in Carolina. Do I consider this likely? No, not at all ... Kaepernick has enough natural talent to look like he's got some upside out there, but it nevertheless remains a possibility.
A scary one, that we as 49ers fans, seriously do not need at this point.