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Kaepernick Improves in ‘Everything’

Posted Jun 13, 2013

Colin Kaepernick’s growth has been evident to the entire coaching staff.


Seven days.

That’s all the time Colin Kaepernick took off before beginning his training for the 2013 season, where he'll open up the regular season for the first time as the starting quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers.

The third-year pro showed extreme commitment to his team and to his own development by emphasizing weight lifting and speed training this offseason. He also worked out with wide receivers on the roster evaluated his first 10 starts in the National Football League, the ones that led the 49ers to the franchise's sixth Super Bowl appearance.

Kaepernick’s growth has been evident to the entire coaching staff.

Where has the young quarterback made the most growth? For Greg Roman, it’s hard to pinpoint one area of Kaepernick's game.

“I’d just say everything,” the 49ers offensive coordinator said. “His approach, his expectations, his understanding of everything. Certainly everybody’s got something to work on, if not multiple things, but he’s light years ahead of where he was last year.”

San Francisco’s head coach took the praise one step further by outlining why the improvements mean so much to the starting quarterback.

“The great thing about Colin Kaepernick is the way he handles pressure,” Jim Harbaugh shared. “Some people don’t handle it very well because they want to be in their comfort zone. And Colin Kaepernick is somebody that thrives on it and embraces it.”

Harbaugh sees his quarterback as someone who loves to be coached and more importantly, he sees a player who loves to be challenged.

“He really embraces it,” Harbaugh said. “Loves to challenge himself. That kind of pressure, that kind of stress, really keeps him stimulated, keeps him motivated. His brain doesn’t get lazy. He understands what’s at stake and continues to improve in all aspects of his game from what we’ve seen.”

Kaepernick has also been noticeably more vocal this offseason, something he believes comes with the territory of being San Francisco’s starting signal-caller.

The 25-year-old is comfortable speaking up to any player on the roster, but noted that it doesn’t make him any different on the field.

“Being able to step up and say something doesn’t affect your play on the field,” Kaepernick said on Thursday. “Confidence of knowing your job and what to do is the biggest thing.”

Kaepernick transformed the identity of the 49ers offense in his short time as a starter. The team utilized his athletic talents with “Pistol” and zone-read schemes to complement a power running game.

The 49ers quarterback knows there’s emphasis on improving in the red zone, the area where the team fell short in Super Bowl XLVII, but Kaepernick believes the key is growing in all areas of his performance.

“We’re trying to improve on anything,” he said. “There’s not one thing we want to do better, we want to do everything better so we’re better this year.”

Kaepernick completed 62.4 percent of his passes in the regular season and finished with a 98.3 quarterback rating. In the playoffs, Kaepernick upped his passer rating to 100.9 and accounted for 7 touchdowns (four passing, three rushing).

Even with a solid debut in his first 10 starts, Kaepernick remains focused on growing in the mental side of the game.

“Being quicker mentally on the field – getting us in the right situations on the field,” the 49ers quarterback detailed.

Oh, and Kaepernick still wants to utilize his athletic play.

Asked if he’s worked on being able to leap buildings, the 49ers quarterback looked back at the reporter and said, “I don’t know about buildings, but hopefully a few defenders.”

Running is very much a component to Kaepernick’s on field success. He picked up 415 rushing yards and five touchdowns in the regular season. In the postseason, Kaepernick rushed for 264 yards and three touchdowns. Most notably, Kaepernick set the NFL’s single-game quarterback rushing record with a 181-yard outing against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Divisional Playoffs.

In the passing department, Kaepernick has been pleased with the early relationship he’s developed with veteran wideout Anquan Boldin.

In fact, Kaepernick singled out the 11-year veteran as the offensive player who’s made the biggest improvements this offseason.

“I’ve had a little bit of time with him and the strides with him have been huge,” said Kaepernick, who noted that trust between the two has been the biggest development. “To give him a chance, that’s the biggest thing with him. If you give him a chance he’s going to make a play more times than not.”

With Michael Crabtree out of the starting lineup for the next few months, Kaepernick is impressed with the hard work of the team’s young wideouts who are looking to earn a greater role in the offense.

“We have other receivers out here working,” Kaepernick said.

Former first-round pick A.J. Jenkins continues to turn heads at minicamp. In the first two days, the second-year wideout has made the best catches of each workout.

“He’s leaps and bounds ahead of where he was last year,” Kaepernick said of the wideout who didn’t make a single reception in his rookie season. “We just need to get him on the field now.”

Kaepernick continues to lead by example and with words this offseason. As for the rest of the offseason, it’s a simple approach for the 49ers quarterback.

“Train, get ready.”

It'll likely include very few days off.

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