The signing of Colin Kaepernick to a contract reportedly worth up to $126 million dollars including $61 million in guaranteed money is sure to raise (and has raised) a lot of eyebrows. Be them fans, pundits, players or coaches, naysayers can point to any number of arguments and most are legitimate. Common themes among detractors are the following:
- He is an unproven commodity. With only 23 starts under his belt and having failed each of the last two seasons to win in the biggest of moments, what we know about him pales in comparison to what we don't.
- His passing numbers are middle-of-the-road, at best. In his first full season as a starter, Kaepernick's 58.4% completion percentage was less than the likes of Mike Glennon, Chad Henne, Christian Ponder and Kellen Clemens. His 3,197 yards were 20th in the league last year, less than what his supposedly inferior predecessor had in Kansas City.
- He lacks the pocket presence and poise under pressure that the other top-10 paid Quarterbacks have.
- He can't progress through his reads and reverts to relying on his athleticism when he gets frazzled.
Although I'd agree giving such a large contract to Kaep comes with a certain amount of risk and can understand all the above points, I would argue that the alternative (Cleveland Browns) seems much, much worse.
Yes, Kaepernick has yet to prove himself in big games, but nothing he has done up to this point suggests that he can't eventually do that. The same can be said for his passing numbers, lack of pocket presence and failure to progress through his reads. He's consistently mentioned as being the first one in the door and last one to leave. That type of work ethic combined with his natural abilities only has the arrow pointing up.
Also, Trent Baalke and Jim Harbaugh, along with his coaching staff, have shown an ability to identify ascending players and extend them at the right time (Alex Boone, Ray Mcdonald, Ian Williams, Ahmad Brooks). With the risk that comes with the reported guaranteed amount, I'd say they are pretty damn sure Kaep is going to be great.
I'm also not worried about the salary cap implications as well, as Paraag Marathe has always done a great job at manipulating contracts when needed.
This contract is really about paying for potential. And given the pre-Harbaalke era we had to endure as fans, I'm willing to go all in with the decision.