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Colin Kaepernick, Peyton Manning, and media narratives

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I take a look at Andy Benoit's recent article on Colin Kaepernick and Peyton Manning.

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Historically, one of the types of articles that I write for this site is praising or calling to task articles written by journalists who write for a national audience. I don't think it's a far stretch at all to assert that the local beat writers are generally more reliable and accurate than the national media writers. Frequently, though, I get the sense that national writers are accomplished writers - from a technical standpoint, I mean. They be good at puttin' them words together. So, I wish that they had more time to pay attention to individual teams.

Hence, my tendency to praise articles that do this well and to call out those that don't. I want to contribute to an online discourse about sports, sports media, and sports writing.

As a consequence, I direct your attention to Andy Benoit's recent article for Sports Illustrated's MMQB. In it, he brings up a curious "game-planning paradox" concerning the potential match-up between Colin Kaepernick and Peyton Manning. Benoit, at last year's combine, asked "a dozen NFL coaches" against whom they would rather game-plan: Manning or Kaepernick. As Benoit puts it, "A solid majority said they'd prefer to face Manning."

Again, as Benoit puts it, "Wow."

In this regard, I agree with Benoit. I think Kaepernick is an incredibly talented QB that must be so difficult to game-plan against. His "dual-threat" nature presents a serious challenge. But, the fact of the matter is, Manning is one of the best QBs of all time. Literally in the history of NFL. One of the best. Game-planning against him must be a nightmare. I imagine Vic Fangio has his hands full this week.

Where I really disagree with Benoit, however, and where I think he deserves some pushback by other writers is over his assertion that "when you take Kaepernick's first read, his plays becomes randomized. He'll break down his own play's structure before the defense actually does. I've always thought this will ultimately be his undoing."

This notion is absurd. The fact of the matter is that Kaepernick can be inconsistent. His fundamentals can be off; he can miss open receivers; he can start running unnecessarily. Nobody's fundamentals are set in their third season. So, when Benoit writes "Kaepernick's flaws can be corrected, but you get the sense they won't ever be fully erased," he greatly diminishes his credibility. He may be right - Kaepernick might never weed out some of his more problematic flaws. It's entirely possible. But, his recent progress makes me doubt the veracity of this theory.

This season he has done a good job of working through his progressions and finding the open receiver - when the o-line has given him time, of course. And, a lot of his progressions aren't based upon surveying one side of the field. Frequently, yes, the 49ers draw up plays that focus on only one side of the field. But, we have recently seen Kaepernick scan the entire field before making a throw. That's progress.

In addition to provide this critique, I also wanted to pose a question for discussion. For those of you who might agree that Kaepernick is more difficult than Manning in respect to game-planning, tell us why. I'm really interested in seeing why people might hold this opinion.

Fooch's Note: This is also a good time to re-read David Neumann's article about the notion that Colin Kaepernick is a one-read quarterback.