By PHIL BARBER
Everyone knew how big Colin Kaepernick was when the 49ers drafted him in 2011. We might have had an inkling of how fast he was, and how far he could throw the ball as well (though I admit that I didn’t believe he was quite that fast, or his arm that strong). What has been most amazing, to me, about Kaepernick’s emergence has been his accuracy.
Kids this inexperienced, and blessed with this much all-around athletic ability, are simply not supposed to be this accurate with the football.
Let me toss a couple stats at you, courtesy of ESPN Stats & Info:
- Only 12.5 percent of Kaepernick’s pass attempts have been incomplete due to an over- or underthrown pass this season, the lowest mark in the NFL (including playoffs). Only 4 of his 101 incompletions (including playoffs) have been the result of an underthrown pass.
- Kaepernick is the most accurate passer in the league on throws more than 20 yards downfield, and has completed at least one of those throws in all but one of his starts this season.
Wednesday, I took the opportunity to ask 49ers quarterbacks coach Geep Chryst about Kaepernick’s accuracy. Chryst, who was generally fantastic during his media time (tell me again why we can’t talk to position coaches more often?), said he had no doubts of the QB’s precision after watching Kap and Nevada roar back from a 17-point deficit to beat Boise State in 2010.
“It was a great game,” Chryst said. “You saw two teams battling with a lot on the line, a lot of chips around the table. You saw his velocity, you saw how well he threw from the run and so you just figure, the throws that the NFL game would require, he could make. There was a certain amount of ‘you’re gonna have to project how that would be.’ But there were so many attributes right there that I’m not surprised that he’s accurate. It’s the throws you need to make, and he’s competitive so he wants to make ’em.”
Chryst pointed out that accuracy isn’t just being able to hit a tire hanging from a rope at 30 yards. It also has to do with timing, especially at the NFL level.
“The line I used to joke around with is, if you can be quick on the buzzer and make a quick decision, sometimes that early answer helps make you accurate,” Chryst said. “If you’re late, and now you’re trying to throw it into a window that’s already closing, I think those are harder throws and maybe get deflected. You’re a little bit on the margin right there.”
That Kaepernick poise that we keep hearing about allows him to get rid of the ball when the window is open a few inches wider. He’s still an accurate thrower; it’s just that his decision-making improves his odds.
“It might only be five or 10 yards, or it may be down the pipe, but he’s been decisive, and I think that helps his accuracy, too,” Chryst said.