What a crazy journey Colin Kaepernick has been on to find himself in the Super Bowl.
The path he's taken to become the starting quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers is special to say the least.
One might even call it divine intervention.
After being born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Colin was adopted by Rick and Teresa Kaepernick and moved to Turlock, California, where he would spend his formative years.
At age eight, he began his football playing as a punter and defensive end and the next year, he was the team's starting quarterback.
Man, that coach must have seen something special in Kaepernick to make him the starting QB in only his second year.
Amazingly, at age 10, he wrote a letter to himself declaring not only that he would be a professional football player, but play for the 49ers, too.
There's no doubt the kid was always an incredibly gifted athlete, and he was nominated for all-state in three sports; football, baseball and basketball as well. In fact, while he earned all-conference honors in football, he was much more highly touted as a baseball pitcher – harnessing a reported 92 mile an hour fastball as a senior – but he desperately wanted to play college football instead of baseball.
It didn't keep the Chicago Cubs from drafting him in 2009, and many football fans are elated he stuck with the game he loved.
So, Kaepernick sent out highlight reels to nearly all of the over 100 Division I football teams across the country – no one wanted the kid that could run fast and throw hard, partly because of his ugly throwing motion.
Was he a quarterback, or just an athlete playing quarterback?
Finally, Nevada, of the Western Athletic Conference, took a gamble on Kaepernick, and it paid off.
In 2008, as a redshirt sophomore and the starter of the Wolf Pack, Kaepernick operated in the Pistol Offense under its inventor, Chris Ault. Ault came up with the offense in 2005, combining the best parts of the spread and power offenses together. In 2007, they started using the read-option, and when “Kap” took over the offense, it flourished with him under center.
He became the first Division I QB to pass for over 2,000 yards and run for over 1,000 yards in three consecutive years, the first to throw for 10,000 and run for 4,000 over his collegiate career.
The “marriage” of Kaepernick and the Pistol Offense was almost too good to be true and it not only put the quarterback on the map – he was selected in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft by San Francisco – but it put Nevada football on the map as well; the Wolf Pack now call the more prestigious Mountain West Conference home. And even the Pistol Offense has gained acclaim, as more than two dozen college teams and eight NFL teams have used it in one capacity or another.
With the 49ers, Kaepernick enjoyed anything but success in his rookie season, being used as nothing more than a change of pace from starter Alex Smith.
This season started out much the same – in his first five games he went 5-9 for 89 yards passing, 111 yards rushing – then, it happened.
Smith went down with a concussion in the 49ers overtime tie with St. Louis – the first tie in four years in the NFL – and when Kaepernick won his first start convincingly over Chicago, head coach Jim Harbaugh decided to famously “ride the hot hand” and keep playing Kap.
The 25-year old was again his team's starting QB in his second season, just like when he first fell in love with the game, at age nine.
Man, that coach must've seen something in Kap to start him in only his second year.
He went 6-2 as the starter over those final eight regular season games, averaging 216 yards through the air and 38 on the ground per game, scoring 12 touchdowns while throwing only three interceptions over that span. He took care of the ball and gave San Fran enough offense to beat good teams.
Then it happened.
He went wild on the Green Bay Packers in the Divisional round, throwing for 263 yards and two TDs while setting a new record for yards rushing in a game by a quarterback – regular season or playoffs – with 181 and two scores.
It was the first time he was able to use the Pistol Offense in the pros at that extensive a level – he kept the ball 16 times for an incredible 11.3 yards per carry average – and Kaepernick looked more like the college kid, running wild in Reno, than a youngster trying to feel his way in the NFL.
In the NFC Championship game, in Atlanta, he only ran for 21 yards, but was much more precise with his passing (16-21 for 233 yards) and ended the game with his second-highest passer rating (127.7) of the season. His stats weren't eye-popping, like Matt Ryan's 396 yards and 3 TDs that day, but Kap “out-efficiented” one of the most efficient passers in the game today.
He went from an adopted kid to the starter in the Super Bowl, from small-time school to the big game on the world's stage.
Kaepernick becomes only the fourth QB to start a Super Bowl in the same season he started his first career game, and there's no doubt the devout Christian is the championship's x-factor.
Because, he possesses that special ability to win the game from both the ground and the air, and if the youngster has another great game, it bodes well for San Francisco.
Super Bowl XLVII kicks off at 6:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, February 3 and can be seen on CBS.
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