Remember the old days--oh, about two months ago, when there was a raging debate in the Bay Area about who should be playing quarterback for the 49ers?
Taking nothing away from Alex Smith, who will be taking the snaps for some other NFL team next year, but that debate is so over. There's no looking back now, no lingering uncertainty. Colin Kaepernick is The Man.
Man-Child is more like it. The guy is barely 25 years old. Heck, if he didn't have this gig, he could still get health coverage on his parents' plan. And once in a while, he seems to reveal that youth.
The first evidence in the Packers playoff game came early. On the Niners' first possession, after the team had racked up 42 yards on its first 4 plays, Kaepernick appeared to get greedy. He tried to wire a pass to Vernon Davis in the left flat, and Green Bay's Sam Shields read it like a "Dick and Jane" book. Packers 7, Niners 0.
Later in the first half, Kaepernick punctuated a scramble to the Green Bay 9 yard line by spiking the ball and barking at the Packers' defense. Flags flew, and the stunt erased the 15 yards San Francisco had gained on the play. It's important to remember a couple of things here: the game was tied at the time, and the Niners have been a bit nervous about their kicking game. Moving the ball backward is not the percentage move.
Ah, youth. The pick-six interception looked to be the work of a young guy in full thinking, a la Nuke LaLoosh, "he hasn't seen my fastball yet." Kaepernick owns a million-dollar arm, but he'll have to learn his limits. The taunting penalty: just plain dumb. Getting into a chirping match in an NFL playoff game is not something you want to make a habit of.
Some will be put off by Kaepernick's touchdown pose: the Tat-Smack. Heck, some are put off by the tattoos in the first place. They'd better get used to it because this guy isn't going away. His mastery of the read-option, the golden arm, the blazing speed and the cockiness combine for a potent package.
In fact, I would wager that there is no one in the NFL getting more attention in film rooms right now than Colin Kaepernick. His skill set and yes, his youthful exuberance/naivete make him a unique threat. And what's scariest of all: he's not getting any younger.