Former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner has been doing some media in recent days, including a pair of radio interviews in which he discussed his work with Colin Kaepernick over the last couple months. Kap is back in Santa Clara for the 49ers offseason workout program, but he spent ten weeks in Arizona working primarily with quarterback coaches Dennis Gile and Mike Giovando. However, he got some time in with Warner, spending a day or so each week working on a variety of things.
He hit on the same general talking points in both interviews transcribed below, but I figured they are both worth a read for some of the nuances. The big point he repeated in both was the need for Kap to understand when to be a quarterback, and when to be an athlete. If you don't listen to Bay Area sports talk radio, this is something Steve Young has mentioned repeatedly in the past. The mechanics will hopefully help him improve Kap's touch and accuracy, but it is going to take a lot of time to stick with the mantra of QB mode vs. athlete mode. Those first few games of the year will be all the more fascinating as we see what changes Kap has made.
We got a couple months, not as much time as I would like based on my schedule and his. But, we got a couple months to work together, and he was working with some other guys here in town. But what I love about Colin is he's a hard worker, he's a good kid, you want to see him succeed, he put in a lot of time and effort into making some of the changes we were trying to push him towards.
You know, the hardest thing to Colin, and I continue to see it more and more now in the NFL and through college, is that these guys are such great athletes that they get away with being an athlete longer and longer than they used to. For me, I was a great athlete comparatively until I got done with high school, and then I became the non-athlete. And I had to learn to play the quarterback position much earlier. Colin Kaepernick got all the way to the NFL and had success in the NFL before he's ever seen things catch up to him, and have to learn how to play the position as a quarterback first and an athlete second. And so that's what we were really trying to get his normal to be different. His normal to be more of a passing position. To be more comfortable in that position so that he stays a passer a little bit longer than he has in the past. And so that he's ready to throw a little bit longer than he has in the past.
But that's the hard thing. I even told him when I sat down with him early, "the hardest part of this is that I can't teach you when to turn off quarterback and when to turn on athlete. Because that wasn't me. I was quarterback through and through, and so I played the game as a quarterback. He's got the amazing ability to be a game-changer as an athlete, and up to this point it has been more athlete than quarterback. We're trying to balance that out a little more, but ultimately it's going to come down to him to understand when he needs to be a quarterback, and when he needs to understand when he needs to stay in and make those easy throws, and when he has to flip that switch and become an athlete and do what he does that's special.
So we were just trying to teach him to become more, his normal position to be more of a throwing position. So he felt more comfortable there, and he could stay in that position longer to get through his first, second and third read, to be more accurate, to have more touch, and then it comes down to him saying, "OK, I'm here long enough, things are falling apart, now become an athlete."
But again, it's a process. And to think that we had two months to try and change what he's been doing for 23, 24 years, it's hard to realize what that takes and how much time. But he put in a lot of time, and a lot of work, and now the hope is that as he goes back to San Francisco, he keeps putting in that work, but then he gets more comfortable with that so that when the bullets start flying and guys start chasing him and trying to hit him, that he can stay in that, normal has become a little different so he can become a better passer on an every down basis than maybe he has been in the past.
Here's the hardest thing for these guys, a guy like Colin Kaepernick. We've all watched him, unbelievable athlete. And what I think I'm seeing more and more is that these athletes are so good that they get farther and farther in the quarterback process, or farther and farther in their career process before they ever really have to learn the ins and outs of the position.
You know, when I was growing up, maybe I was the best athlete through high school, and then I no longer was the best athlete, and so I had to learn how to play the quarterback position. These guys that we're watching, are going farther and farther; two years into college, four years into college, two years into the pros, before the athleticism really gets to the point where I can't rely on that anymore. That's where I think Colin was. He allowed his athleticism to carry him for so long, and now he's in the NFL, and he's starting to see it is catching up to him a little bit, he can't do all the running. Now he's got to become more of a pass-first guy and then complement with his athleticism. And he's never been asked to do that before.
And so that's the process that we kind of went through in the couple of months that I was working with him. Was really trying to get his normal to be a quarterback position as opposed to being an athlete - you know, thinking first as a quarterback and staying in a more throw-friendly position longer so he can get through his progressions and he can be comfortable and he can stay accurate, into his first second, you know, down through his reads. As opposed to looking at one guy and going, "OK, now I can create like I've done in the past." So that's the kind of the process we went through.
You know Rich, you were more of an athlete than I was, the hardest thing, I told him early on, was he's going to have to figure out where that process goes, where, how long do I stay a quarterback before I need to become an athlete? For me, it was quarterback 24/7. There was no athleticism there. I was always just a quarterback and I'm looking to throw.
These guys who are so talented have to find that timing where it's quarterback for this long, and then I become an athlete. And I think that's one of the hardest things for guys like yourself, Rich, that can move and create, is how long do I stay a quarterback within a particular play, what read do I get to before now I can become the athlete that has made me so special and can make me so dynamic.
And finding that mix, but for us it was, "Let's keep you as a quarterback a little bit longer, in a balanced position in a throwing position, moving, ready to throw so you can become more accurate, have more touch, and then you've got that find that fine line of when I become an athlete."