Colin Kaepernick Won't Suffer Setback in 1st Full Season as 49ers' Starter

Ryan RudnanskySenior Writer ISeptember 6, 2013

SAN DIEGO, CA - AUGUST 29:   Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers laughs as he returns to the locker room after a warm up before a preseason game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on August 29, 2013 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

First, you need talent to star in the NFL.

Then, you need talent surrounding you.

Then, you need a system that makes the most of your abilities.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has all three.

After soaring in relief of former starter Alex Smith last season, Kaepernick, once again, has the pieces to reach the Super Bowl this season.

Michael Crabtree, last year's No. 1 receiver for the 49ers, is out until at least Week 11 after suffering a torn Achilles (via Rotoworld), but the 49ers signed veteran Anquan Boldin in the offseason, which will ease the pain.

Backup running back Kendall Hunter also returns to the field. And the loss of Crabtree only means one of the league's most dangerous tight ends in Vernon Davis will receive more targets.

Kaepernick averaged 8.3 yards per pass attempt while tossing 10 touchdowns to three interceptions in his last eight games of the 2012 regular season. He also rushed for 304 yards and scores during that span.

In three playoff games, the dynamic dual-threat averaged 10 yards per pass attempt while tossing four touchdowns to two interceptions. He also rushed for 264 yards and three touchdowns on 10.6 yards per carry in the postseason, including setting the quarterback rushing record against the Green Bay Packers (181 yards). 

What made all this possible was: 1) Jim Harbaugh's decision to employ the read-option and 2) Kaepernick's ability to essentially master the running play in an incredibly short period of time. The combination of Kaepernick and six-time Pro Bowler Frank Gore—with the quick, shifty LaMichael James sprinkled in—proved to be devastating for opponents.

Another thing happened when Kaepernick took over as starter last season, though. 

Vernon Davis became Vernon Davis again.

In Kaepernick's first start of 2012 against the Chicago Bears, Davis led all 49ers receivers with six catches for 83 yards and a touchdown. 

Against the Atlanta Falcons and Baltimore Ravens in the playoffs, Davis posted a combined 11 catches for 210 yards and a touchdown.

The loss of Crabtree may actually be a blessing in disguise, because it will force Kaepernick to look Davis' way more often this season. You know, the same Vernon Davis who racked up 78 catches for 965 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2009.

More than anything, Kaepernick has a coaching staff surrounding him that simply won't allow him to fail. Heck, look what Harbaugh and Co. did for Alex Smith in the 2011 and 2012 campaigns before the veteran suffered a concussion against the St. Louis Rams in Week 13. Smith was lost before Harbaugh came around.

San Francisco has already proven to have one of the best coaching staffs in football. Combined with Kaepernick's talent, that can have a devastating, long-lasting effect.


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