2011 49ers Grades: Colin Kaepernick

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 20: Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers passes the ball against the Oakland Raiders at Candlestick Park on August 20, 2011 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

We are back once again with an incomplete grade for a player. Much like we could not really grade Daniel Kilgore and Mike Person yesterday, we can't really grade QB Colin Kaepernick today. Kaepernick received more playing time than either of those two, but five pass attempts and some handoffs does not really give us much to go on.

People will make judgements about his year one on-field progress anyway, but as Colin Kaepernick heads into year two, his work off the field is what will be significant. If the rumors are anywhere near accurate, Alex Smith will be signing a new contract in the coming weeks that could keep him in town for quite some time.

If Colin Kaepernick is as determined as he has indicated to take away the starting job, potential out-clauses in Smith's eventual contract would be as much of a motivating factor as anything. Coach Harbaugh has been showing significant loyalty to Alex Smith, but if Kaepernick continues to improve, he could very well force a change down the road.

For now though, he just needs to keep processing information. He will have his first full offseason to work with Jim Harbaugh, Greg Roman and Geep Chryst. He seems to have the right attitude about learning his position and that is really all we can ask for at this point. It is going to be an interesting and lengthy evolution for Kaepernick.

We might learn a lot about the team coaches' thoughts on Kaepernick based on how they handle the QB position in free agency and the draft. It seems virtually assured that Alex Smith will be back as the starter. However, if the team elects to stick with Kaepernick as the backup, that would seem to be a good sign...or at least, not a bad sign. If they go out and add a veteran backup or draft another QB at some point, maybe they are not quite so certain of anything. That's not to say a sixth or seventh round or UDFA QB is a threat to Kaepernick, but if the team goes for one earlier or with some NFL experience, then there is a reason to be concerned.

Do you see Kaepernick once again heading into the season as the number two QB? If Smith is the starter, do they need to find some kind of backup option in the meantime?

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