Even as Colin Kaepernick has sky-rocketed to game the last six months, he remains a hard working quarterback, committed to improving his craft. The start of training camp has brought a few such stories about Kaepernick's improvement, and all are worth reading. Consider this a sort of mini-Golden Nuggets featuring three interesting tidbits about the 49ers quarterback.
Matt Maiocco put together a brief column about Kaepernick's improved touch. While Kap has a cannon for an arm, arguably his biggest struggle last season came in putting the necessary touch on shorter passes. He could do that, but he was inconsistent in his approach, and more often than not was firing lasers at his receivers, no matter where they were on the field. The best example was when he fired one at Randy Moss and you could see Moss in serious pain after the throw.
Based on the first four days worth of practice reports, Kap may be getting a better handle on when to add a little mustard, and when to add some finesse. He has apparently connected on some very nice passes to his running backs. While it's nice to see Kap uncork the deep ball, the 49ers have incredibly valuable weapons coming out of the backfield. Getting the ball to LaMichael James in space can be more valuable than a quick slant for a six or seven yard gain. A soft pass to James in space opens the door for the speedster to break something big.
Kap has repeatedly stated he wants to be viewed as a complete quarterback, and not one who is simply a scrambling QB. He already has the arm strength, and he's gaining the experience to know what to expect in various situations. Adding in the necessary touch is a key part of his development.
Speaking of running...
Even before taking over the starting QB job, Colin Kaepernick proved he was a dangerous scrambler. Dating back to the early days of his rookie season, Kap showed off serious speed, including an extra gear once he got into the open field. His scrambling skills were quickly apparent, and I'd say the Green Bay Packers got to experience the best of it. In last season's divisional round, Kap set an NFL record with 181 rushing yards. He thoroughly decimated Green Bay, and in fact was likely a major reason head coach Mike McCarthy and his coaching staff went to Texas A&M to learn how to defend the read option.
SI.com's Peter King (and of course, of the newly minted TheMMQB.com) was at 49ers practices yesterday, and had a chance to speak with several players. Previously he wrote up a feature on Kap discussing how things have changed for him, and looking at him from more of a feature-y angle. In today's Monday Morning Quarterback, King devoted one of his ten things he thinks he thinks to Kap's running ability.
Kap spoke with King about the inclusion of speed work in his offseason workouts. While training in Atlanta, Kap worked with Olympic long-jumper Dwight Phillips, among others. Here is his description of how he tried to improve:
"I trained with a few Olympic runners and jumpers," Kaepernick told me. "Just to try to get a little bit faster, a little bit better. Anything I could do to try to get a little bit better and stay ahead of the competition. I think the biggest thing was the form of running and how to be more efficient when I run. I feel like that has helped me to this point, and it's something I'm trying to improve on more and more, but I think those few weeks with them were very valuable." He said he improved his stride and "the way I contact the ground. There are a lot of details to running that I never even thought about. I just went out and ran. I think I can be faster. I think I can be quicker."
Alright NFL. Time to get ready for a faster, more efficient running Kap. Wrap your head around that!
The hard work
Before the previous two articles, Matt Barrows had an interesting feature on Kap's offseason and what it has meant to the team. The article goes into detail about how he remains among the first players to the facility every morning. His popularity is surging to insane levels. His jersey was tops among all players for the second quarter of this year (April to June), and there is a humorous anecdote from Ian Williams in the article.
There were some on the Interwebz who were concerned the celebrity status might go to Kap's head. His work this offseason would seem to prove he remains committed to becoming an all-time great QB. He has been asked about comparisons and descriptions of his skills, and in response he often says he wants to be a QB that cannot be compared to anybody. If he continues to improve in these many nuanced ways, he could very well reach that level.
Given how Kap is developing, I think our old friend Vincent Frank summed it up best...
The rest of the NFL after seeing reports on Kaepernick........ pic.twitter.com/9nwasEI1f2— Vincent Frank (@VincentFrankNFL) July 29, 2013