The chatter over the last week and a half has been about Richard Sherman calling Michael Crabtree a mediocre receiver. While Sherman apologized for making the comments (as opposed to being incorrect about his comments), it will be a story that carries over into next season when the Seahawks and 49ers square off.
While plenty of 49ers fans have their problems with Sherman, it is worth noting that some of the Seahawks have shown some measure of respect to their NFC West rival. The most recent example belongs to free safety Earl Thomas. Last weekend, he wrote something up for his personal website. He discussed the NFC Championship Game, and was impressed with what the 49ers brought to the table.
He devoted a section of the article to Colin Kaepernick, focusing in particular on his speed and arm strength.
One of his strengths as a runner is his height. He has such long strides, it causes you to misjudge his speed. It doesn't look like he's running that fast. But once you get close to him, his stride is so long, he's just running away from you.
He also throws one of the hardest balls in the league, almost like a baseball player, and it comes out like a fastball. Hot. The play I had against Boldin in the end zone, Kaepernick was jumping up in mid-air as he threw. That was a dime. I was kind of surprised he even threw it. They usually don't when I'm that close in the area.
Boldin kind of gave me the look of a crease route, like a post, so I tried to keep my eyes glued on him. In those situations when a quarterback scrambles, it becomes a little chaotic and you just want to try to stay with your man. Those are tough situations when you have to run in circles with your receiver. He'll kind of push off as you try to find the quarterback, and now you're trailing him as the quarterback makes a hell of a throw."
In discussing Kap's scrambling, Thomas gave us some insight into the 49ers game plan most of us probably did not know about:
They were running phantom routes like they were trying to get open, but they were just decoys so Kaepernick could run, almost like it was a draw. It makes it tougher to get to him because you have to deal with blockers already down the field. It's always going to be a mismatch. When he gets into that second level with the linebackers, he's going to out run them nine times out of 10.
We'll be doing some All-22 breakdown of Kap's scrambling and designed runs, so this is something we'll want to try and catch. Of course, this would probably be a good example of how All-22 can't show us everything. Without knowing the specific play-call, players running "phantom" routes could look similar to players running actual routes. We're virtually never going to have all the information in place to make a 100 percent accurate assessment of a given play or performance. We do the best with what we can, and keep an eye out for details like this to help us better understand things.
Colin Kaepernick has plenty of areas in which he needs to improve as a quarterback. His ceiling is enormous. He is one of the most physically gifted quarterbacks to ever enter the NFL. It remains to be seen if he'll reach his enormous potential, but the physical tools are in place. He has the benefit of a great coaching staff to help draw out that potential, which leaves me incredibly excited about the future. It can be a roller coaster with Kap, but I like to think the payoff down the road will be worth the patience.