Antoine Bethea: Colin Kaepernick Leads 49ers by Example

Much has been made about Colin Kaepernick tinkering with his throwing motion this offseason.

Antoine Bethea, the San Francisco 49ers strong safety, watched his starting quarterback throw pass after pass this offseason and didn't notice much of a change in the delivery.

What he did notice, however, is how Kaepernick surveyed the defense before launching the ball from the pocket.

"That was something that stuck out to me," Bethea said Friday on veteran report day for training camp. "I could tell he worked on his craft. I know he's going to help the team out. He's going to continue to get better, continue to do what he has to do to lead this team."

Bethea, a 10-year veteran who enters his second season in San Francisco, didn't see a ton of need for Kaepernick to change his all-around approach. But after Kaepernick's passer rating dropped despite improving his yardage numbers, Bethea admitted that it's a natural part of the game for players to fine ways to fine-tune their crafts in the offseason regardless of what happened the year prior.

"It's subtle," Bethea said of Kaepernick. "Colin is a great quarterback. Everybody, even myself, (does) things each year to better (themselves). Whether it's lower my back pedal, work on my first step coming out the break – there are subtle things as a pro where you're going to critique your game and try to better yourself. That's all he did.

"It wasn't anything that was a drastic change to make him a different type of quarterback. He's just improving his game, something all great players do."

Bethea noted that Kaepernick's timing appeared to be on point in his first offseason running Geep Chryst's offensive scheme.

"Not really telegraphing where he's going, that's a key thing for a quarterback," Bethea said. "He did a great job of that during OTAs. Of course you want to get a jump on his eyes, but the good quarterbacks are going to look directly at me.

"You can't always tell where they're going to go. Their job is to look at me and keep me in position so I can't get a bead on the ball."

Bethea said he was impressed with how Kaepernick used his eyes to throw off the veteran's timing.

"You have to look at the shoulders, they have to eventually get to where they're going," Bethea said of his mid-snap routine. "And as a safety, I have to get a great jump on it. Sometimes you can have a quarterback who will just stare at his receivers. They'll just cut half of the field off and make it easier for the defense."

With a faster offensive system in place, shorter play calls and more time on the line of scrimmage to study the defensive alignment, Kaepernick appears to be in a great position to succeed as he enters his fifth season with the 49ers and third as the franchise's full-time starting quarterback.

Kaepernick's committment to detail has also further entrenched him as a team leader.

Bethea spoke highly of his quarterback, and how Kaepernick's work ethic bodes well for the 49ers in 2015.

"Without him, we're not going to go far," Bethea said. "He's our leader."

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