San Francisco's starting quarterback became a household name in just 10 starts.
Colin Kaepernick's breakout season for the 49ers etched his name into the minds of sports fans all over the world. The third-year quarterback has become a hot commodity this offseason. It seems like everyone wants to hear from him and know more about him. Because of Kaepernick's rising popularity, he's made appearances everywhere from music award shows to magazine covers.
Kaepernick even delivered a first pitch at a San Francisco Giants game last month. No surpise, the strong-armed quarterback was clocked at 87 miles per hour.
The young signal-caller's latest achievement comes in the form of an ESPY award nomination. The dual-threat quarterback has been nominated for the ESPY's "Best Breakthrough Athlete" category. Fans can vote until July 17, the night of the 2013 ESPY Awards.
Kaepernick faces well-known competition in the category, it includes a familiar foe, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. Besides the two NFC West passers, the breakthrough nominees include Texas A&M Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim center fielder Mike Trout.
As for the 49ers quarterback, it's hard to pinpoint a singular breakthrough moment during Kaepernick's 2012 season. Every week, Kaepernick provided an unexpected moment.
In his first NFL start, the 49ers quarterback went 16-of-23 for 243 passing yards and two passing scores in a blowout win over the Chicago Bears on "Monday Night Football." Kaepernick posted a 133.1 quarterback rating in front of a national viewing audience.
The 49ers quarterback won six of his next nine starts, leading the 49ers to Super Bowl XLVII. Along the way, Kaepernick enjoyed hard-earned road wins over the New Orleans Saints, New England Patriots, plus impressive playoff victories over the Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons.
Kaepernick cemented his rising star status in his first postseason start, a record-setting home win over the Packers in the NFC Divisional Playoffs.
The 49ers quarterback picked up 181 rushing yards and a pair of scores on the ground. It was the best single-game rushing performance by a quarterback in league history. Kaepernick added 263 passing yards and two more touchdowns in the air.
Kaepernick has reached out to fans through his Twitter account to ask for support in the ESPY vote process. As a team, the 49ers won a 2011 ESPY in the "Best Game" category for a memorable late-game touchdown pass to tight end Vernon Davis.