Monday, 21 January 2013

Colin Kaepernick: How the San Francisco 49ers Became an Offensive Juggernaut

Colin Kaepernick has turned the San Francisco 49ers into an offensive juggernaut. Over the last two weeks, the second-year, dual-threat quarterback out of Nevada has emerged as the centerpiece to one of the
league's most diverse offensive attacks.

When the San Francisco 49ers traded up and selected Colin Kaepernick in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft, did they know what they were getting? On draft day, guys like Mel Kiper Jr. and Mike Mayock called him a "project" pick. A guy who ran first and passed second.

While most scouts raved about Kaepernick's character, athleticism and ability, they harped on his tenure at Nevada running the pistol offense as a negative. They said his lack of time under center was something the accomplished collegiate QB would have to overcome if he was to be a successful pro.

But through all of talk and analysis, one guy hit the nail on the head. ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer said this about Kaepernick:

I think the San Francisco 49ers found a diamond in the rough. I know Jim Harbaugh wanted him bad. He sees the ceiling.

And my oh my, what a ceiling it has become.

When Jim Harbaugh decided to make Colin Kaepernick his starting quarterback earlier this year, he knew exactly what he was doing.

After losing to the New York Giants last year, Harbaugh and Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman realized they needed something more than a game manager under center if they were to have any shot at getting to the Super Bowl.

Jim Harbaugh realized Colin Kaepernick was the key to unlocking the 49ers offense. 
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
That's why all the credit in the world has to go to Harbaugh and his coaching staff.

This season it was those two who understood that while playing great defense is a must, thanks to this offense-friendly era we're living in, a dynamic offense is just as important.

It was those guys who realized when Alex Smith went down, that Colin Kaepernick was exactly what this team needed to compete at a high offensive level.

To put into perspective how much the game has changed in a 10-year span, just take a look at these Team Passing statistics.

In 2012 the NFL produced nine teams that passed for over 4,000 yards (via ESPN stats). Compare that to 10 years earlier (2002 season), when only four teams broke that mark (via ESPN stats) and you begin to understand this new offensive revolution.

Sunday, down 17-0 to the hometown Atlanta Falcons, the San Francisco 49ers did something they weren't suppose to do.

Led by the spectacular read-option attack and Colin Kaepernick's electric arm, the Niners overcame what would have been considered an insurmountable deficit with Alex Smith under center before punching their ticket to Super Bowl XLVII.

Coach Harbaugh and his Quarterback 
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
That old 49ers game managing, ground-and-pound offense has transformed in front of our eyes into the most dynamic, innovative attack in the National Football League.

From their incorporation of the pistol to their outstanding use of the read-option, Harbaugh, his staff and their quarterback deserve a ton of credit.

Folks, the NFL has changed. And It's quarterbacks like Colin Kaepernick who have helped bring about this change.

While there will always be a place for big-armed, drop-back passers, this new NFL has carved out a niche for explosive dual-threat guys as well.

It's why Jim Harbaugh traded up and took Kaepernick in the 2011 NFL Draft. It's why the San Francisco 49ers have transformed into an an offensive juggernaut. And it's why Alex Smith is resting comfortably on the bench while Kaepernick is preparing to lead his team to victory in New Orleans on Feb. 3.

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