Colin Kaepernick is the stereotype of the new NFL quarterback ‘hybrid’, a man behind centre who is able to run, whilst still possessing the arm strength to toss it down the field. Since he won the starting job from Alex Smith, Kaepernick has shocked the football viewing nation, bringing new hope and life to the San Francisco 49ers offense. After a fantastic run in the play-offs, with Super-Kaep as a focal point, on Sunday the San Francisco 49ers will face off against Ray Lewis’s Baltimore Ravens, with the whole world watching. The Super Bowl stage is set for Kaepernick.
But can a member of the new breed of quarterback really win the Super Bowl? Traditionally pocket passers have been the bread and butter of Super Bowl success, with the likes of Peyton Manning, Montana and Tom Brady all being examples of this. Even Aaron Rodgers to some extent is more a passer than runner, therefore for a Quarterback like Kaepernick to get his hands on the Lombardi Trophy would be outstanding. Kaepernick is clearly most effective in the option, but he also can find receivers downfield, a conundrum the Raven’s defence is going to struggle to solve. He’s only in his second season in the NFL, but has shown presence, poise and confidence every game, especially in the Play-offs, where many experts doubted he would succeed. He has even managed to beat out some experienced, veteran quarterbacks such as Matt Ryan (Atlanta Falcons) and potential 2013 MVP, and Super Bowl winner in 2011, Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers).
In the past legends like Joe Montana and Steve Young have led the Red n’ Gold to victory in their pursuit of the Lombardi Trophy, maintaining their unbeaten record in five consecutive Super Bowls. It’s now down to Kaepernick and the current 49ers team to continue this great historic record. Kaepernick is not Steve Young or Montana just yet, he may not have Jerry Rice to hit downfield, but the developing threat of Michael Crabtree is a good enough substitute. Since Kaepernick got the starting job in San Francisco, Crabtree has finally began to reach the levels that the 49ers thought he would back when he was drafted in the 1st round. Vernon Davis will need to emerge from the shadows to help Kaepernick, and the veteran Randy Moss can also make a huge impact.
It has emerged over the play-offs that the 49ers will have to rely on Kaepernick more than they expected, after their hyped defence has fallen short, conceding 20+ points each game, stark contrast to the defence that was shutting teams out during the regular season. The trio of Justin Smith, Aldon Smith and Patrick Willis have been formidable all year, and will need to find form again in New Orleans, in order to obtain that coveted Super Bowl ring.
Kaepernick has overcome plenty of tests so far in his brief stint as a NFL starter, but the Super Bowl could be too early for him. Despite performing well in the NFC Championship game, the Super Bowl is another level of pressure, to become known as the top team in the league and write your name into the history books. Frank Gore needs to step up again, like in the NFC Championship, and provide Kaepernick with the options to beat the tough, motivated, Raven’s defence. Whether he will be able to succeed remains to be seen, but if he does, it will be a success for the ‘new breed’ and beat down the traditionalist view that a Super Bowl winning quarterback has to be a passer, first and foremost, not a hybrid of run and pass. ‘Super Kaep’ will have to live up to his new persona and earn his place alongside Young and Montana, by leading the Red and Gold to a sixth Lombardi Trophy. Kaepernick certainly has the natural ability and physical skills to win, the question still lives on. Will he crack under the bright lights? Will the pressure be too much? Can he handle having the hopes of a city on his shoulders?