After 10 starts in the National Football League,
“Kap is a diverse guy,” Jim Harbaugh said on Thursday, the first day of San Francisco’s training camp. “The coaches love him. The players love him. It’s unique.”
The 49ers coach believes Kaepernick was a respected player even before he took over the starting reigns last season in a dominant win over the Chicago Bears on "Monday Night Football," but it’s only heightened based on the young quarterback's commitment and leadership in the team’s offseason program.
“I see that with Kap," Harbaugh said. "He’s universally respected and loved by his teammates. People relate to him. They like his company. They like being around him. I’ve noticed that very much from our team.”
Harbaugh believes it’s an important aspect for a quarterback to be revered by his teammates. He's noticed in the locker room and in the meal room. Kaepernick is never alone.
“For a leader to be effective, they’ve got to be followed by most of the group that he’s leading,” the 49ers coach added. “Colin Kaepernick definitely has that love and respect from his teammates.”
Kaepernick agrees with his coach.
[ PHOTOS - TRAINING CAMP: JULY 25 ]
"I think it’s very important," Kaepernick said. "If your players and teammates don’t respect you, someone they can talk to or associate with, they’re not going to follow you… they’re not going play as hard for you."
National media recognition for the 25-year-old quarterback doesn’t bother Harbaugh. The head coach sees no change in Kaepernick even with commercials, magazine covers and award shows under the 49ers quarterback’s belt this offseason.
“Not going to be peel back the onion in every possible way, but he’s a very diverse guy and very intelligent guy,” Harbaugh said of Kaepernick’s off the field activities in 2013. “He’s got a lot of common sense. It’s plus, plus, plus across the board when you talk about the way he thinks, the way he operates. It’s A-plus.”
Kaepernick isn't worried about the attention from his off the field clothing commentary or appearances in the ESPN Body Issue.
Football is all that Kaepernick cares about, or cares to discuss.
"Football is football. I’m here to work," he said. "I’m here to make sure I get better."
Harbaugh only wants to see Kaepernick continue to improve each day of camp, just like the rest of the team.
“Make each day an accomplishment for our future,” Harbaugh said repeatedly in opening camp press conference, stressing the importance of taking the team’s NFC Championship defense one day at a time.
"He seized the moment and it seems like he's still doing that," said Smith, who is now 100 percent healthy following a late-season triceps injury. "He's working his tail-off and leading by example and showing the other guys how to do it.
"He's able to relate to all of us," said the 49ers wideout, who was removed from the PUP list and added to the active roster prior to the start of camp. "He went through the struggle of being a backup like all of us."
"He knows how to prepare himself and guys respect that," Williams, the fourth-year pro went on to say. "I don't know if there's a better competitor in the league."
The way Kaepernick earned his starting role was also recognized my players in the trenches like Smith.
"It's pretty cool to watch him do it from the beginning."
With the respect of his teammates, Kaepernick has found that many of the 49ers are coming up to him with football questions.
"I think they're more comfortable with me," he said. "I think they have more confidence with me."