By now everyone has heard about the next best thing in the NFL, the read-option. At the forefront of this movement are young, star-in-the-making quarterbacks Russell Wilson, RGIII, and our own Colin Kaepernick. Some debate whether that kind of offense will even survive in NFL, but I think the more interesting and infinitely more important topic is which one of these young players will emerge as the most successful.
What's missing from nearly all of the discussions I've read is the importance of the pairing of head coaches to these quarterbacks, and there's one that gives their player the edge over all the others, Coach Jim Harbaugh. Although all of the head coaches of these three teams have had past success, Harbaugh has a proven talent for evaluating and elevating quarterbacks, including Alex Smith. (I mean who would have thought three years ago we would trade him for a second (2012) and third, possibly another second (2013) round pick!?) Even though none of this is news to 49er fans, I think he is overlooked by most other fans and pundits as the X-factor for the future QB success story in the NFL.
The numbers speak for themselves:
Josh Johnson, University of San Diego (2005 & 2006)
6,576 passing yards, 70 TDs
1099 rushing yards, 15 TDs
Two consecutive 11-1 records
Two Pioneer Football League championships
PFL Offensive Player of the Year (2005 & 2006)
I-AA All-American (2005 & 2006)
Andrew Luck, Stanford (2009 & 2010)
5,913 passing, 45 TDs
807 rushing, 5 TDs
2009 Freshman All-American
First Team All Pac-10 (2010)
Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year (2010)
Second Team All-American (2010)
Orange Bowl MVP (2010)
And now in San Francisco, Colin Kaepernick is the newest gem that has been unearthed by this quarterback producing genius. And although you can look at any of these young guns in the NFL with having great talent and ability that translates well on the field, it's apparent that Kaep is the most physically and mentally gifted of all of them. So I guess you can argue that any of these players would greatly benefit from the tutelage of Harbaugh, but this coach-quarterback tandem is the best combination by far and together they are going to make each other legendary.
So watch out for the newest field general that's being groomed by Ol' Captain Comeback, the Quarterback Whisperer.