“[At the combine], I thought it was things that we’d seen on tape showed up in the workout [that caught our eye],” said Harbaugh. “His competitive nature [and how] he threw [the ball]. He did everything at the combine. [His] interview was outstanding.”
Heading into the combine, Kaepernick was 6-foot-5, 233 pounds and ran a 4.53-second, 40-yard dash. His athleticism proved to be impressive with 32.5 inches in the vertical jump and 115 inches in the broad jump.
General manager Trent Baalke was humbled with the progress of Kaepernick since being drafted. Even though his production was great in 2012, no one expected success immediately.
“Well, it's a lot easier to sit up here after a young man's had success and say, yes, you pictured that,” Baalke said on Wednesday at the combine. “But there's a lot of unknowns when you draft anybody.”
Kaepernick finished the 2012 regular season with 1,814 passing yards and a 10-3 touchdown to interception ratio in seven starts and eight games total. In three postseason games, he took off for 798 passing yards and four touchdown passes to go with 264 rushing yards and three rushing touchdown.
Baalke felt Kaepernick would have a strong ability to adapt his skills in the NFL from what he saw the combine. Both Baalke himself and the coaching staff believed they saw the right quarterback for the 49ers.
“You look at skill sets, you look at the kid as an individual and you look at the intangibles that they bring to the table and you try to see if they fit,” said Baalke. “He's a young man who brought an awful lot to the table as you know. And he is just a guy who our coaching staff really believed in, that we believed in from a personnel standpoint and it was just letting him develop and giving him an opportunity. But coach Harbaugh has done an outstanding job with him as has [quarterback coach] Geep Chryst and [offensive coordinator] Greg Roman and he's still learning, [as well as] still developing.”
Not only has Kaepernick showed his dual threat abilities this season, but he was able to rebound after making mistakes. Up until the Super Bowl, Kaepernick fumbled the ball once and threw four interceptions, but responded with points on the following possessions. Kaepernick led four touchdown drives and one field goal drive after committing a turnover. He showed the composure an NFL player needs after making a mistake, which reveals his work ethic and determination to win moving forward.
Harbaugh said Kaepernick’s work ethic has been his recipe for success. It is something that can’t be coached and is priceless for any team to have in the long run.
“[His work ethic] is an asset to our team,” said Harbaugh. “It’s one of the things that’s made him who he is. He has a great attitude. And people that have a great attitude and great work ethic, there’s very few circumstances or situations that can keep you from being good. I think that goes for anybody. When you’ve got a great ethic and a great attitude, things are going to work out really well.”