The Nevada Wolfpack quarterback made his first start in an instant classic that ended in a 69-67 Boise State win in the fourth overtime.
The game is a harbinger of the themes that many of us have seen repeated by Kaepernick in San Francisco, such as: replacing a successful incumbent quarterback, his dual-threat ability, his huge arm, his ability to be unfazed when his team is behind and the knack for greatness in big moments.
Colin Kaepernick’s first collegiate start came in Week 6 of the 2007 Nevada season. Colin had replaced starting sophomore QB Nick Graziano, who had injured his leg when he was sacked against Fresno State the previous week. (By the way, Colin had four touchdowns and 384 yards against Fresno State.)
Graziano is the original member of the “Club for QBs Replaced by Colin Kaepernick”. As the 49ers’ Alex Smith and Graziano know all too well it only takes one start to be supplanted by the uber-talented Kaep, even if you are in the midst of a solid season yourself.
Most kids making their first start on a big stage would be understandably ill-equipped for such an elevated stage—not Colin.
The game was played at Bronco Stadium in Boise, before a thundering crowd rooting for the new BCS darlings, who only the year before had shocked Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl and finished fifth in the rankings. The Nevada vs. Boise State game was televised on ESPN as well.
By the six-minute mark in the second quarter, the Wolfpack were down 21-7 after an offensive flurry by Boise St. This should sound familiar to the Atlanta Falcons fans who watched their team jump out to a sizable lead in the NFC Championship game two weeks ago.
The problem for the Broncos, and most recently the Atlanta Falcons, is that Kaepernick does not break under the pressure.
The Broncos and Wolfpack traded touchdowns as the half wound down. With 1:15 left in the first half, Kaepernick cut the lead to 28-21 with a 58-yard bomb. That pass specifically showcased the cannon of an arm that Colin possesses. Any team that plays against Colin has to be aware that he can strike deep at any moment. Kaep also threw a 41-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to tie the game.
Overall, he finished his first outing with 243 yards passing and three touchdowns through the air.
Boise State also discovered that if Colin does not beat you through the air, he will beat you with his feet. Kaepernick amassed 177 yards and two touchdowns against a stout Broncos defense. With his 6’5” frame and long strides he eats up yards quickly, as he did in the NFC Divisional playoff game against the Green Bay Packers, where he set an NFL playoff record with 188 yards rushing.
Chris Ault’s pistol offense was the perfect place to showcase Kaepernick’s exceptional athletic ability, both throwing and passing.
As indicated by the Boise State game, Colin Kaepernick does not give up. He is a fighter and wills his team to score over and over again. His drive to succeed was apparent from day one and resonated over his career at Nevada.
Kaepernick finished his career at Nevada with 10,098 yards passing and 4,112 yards rushing over three-and-a-half seasons. He is the only FBS quarterback to throw for 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 for three straight seasons.
In the fourth overtime of his first game, Colin Kaepernick found himself with the ball down two points (69-67) as his team attempted a two-point conversion. He rolled out of the pocket, could not find an open receiver and was tackled to end the game.
Kaepernick has not been handed success during his career; he has had to take his lumps and find a way to rise above it.
The 2007 Boise State game proved his ability and prepared him to become the NFL star he is today. The game epitomized all of the great qualities that the San Francisco 49ers saw in him when they drafted him in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft.
If I were the Baltimore Ravens, I would be worried on Sunday.