This is my Saturday column.
Colin Kaepernick isn’t huge on mechanics. He said so on Wednesday.
This revelation shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has ever seen him play. Kaepernick is one of the most inconsistent quarterbacks in the NFL.
His college coach, Chris Ault, broke down Kaepernick’s inconsistencies last week to Foxsports.com. Ault was the only college coach who gave Kaepernick a football scholarship. Ault created Kaepernick. Ault’s opinion matters, and it should matter to the 49ers although sadly it doesn’t.
“Nobody knows Kap like I do,” Ault told Foxsports.com, “For some reason, last year his technique throwing the ball … he let it go.”
What do you mean “let it go”? Could you be more specific, Chris?
“I saw a little of it in college,” he said. “He was a pitcher, as everyone knows. He threw that thing 93 or 94 miles per hour. He has a low elbow at times … He’s one of the few guys that can get away with throwing that way, but when you have to make the touch pass, drop it over (coverage), or you have to anticipate where a receiver is going, that type of release often times makes you very inconsistent. That’s what I’m seeing. I saw it when we were at Nevada a little bit.”
A low elbow is an issue Kaepernick apparently was working to correct for five years in college, and should have been working to correct the past five years in the NFL.
Wednesday afternoon, I told 49ers head coach Jim Tomsula what Coach Ault said about Kaepernick, then asked if someone on Tomsula’s coaching staff has noticed Kaepernick dropping his elbow while throwing and if they’re working to correct the issue.
“With all due respect to Coach Ault, I don’t know him,” Tomsula said. “But we’re really not paying attention to other people’s evaluations. We’re watching our film and we’re evaluating and we’re correcting and working on things that we feel like we need to work on.”
Oh, really? With all due respect, Jim, you don’t know Ault but you should. Jim Harbaugh knew him. Harbaugh respected Ault. Called him “a great football coach with a great record and an even better man” in 2012.
On Thursday, I asked 49ers offensive coordinator Geep Chryst how well he knows Ault.
“I’ve never met him,” Chryst said.
Never met him?
Memo to Geep: Why don’t you pick up the phone and call him? Why don’t you do your due diligence? Ask Ault what the tipoffs are when Kaepernick is throwing well. The signs when he’s throwing poorly. Ask Ault what he did when Kaepernick wasn’t throwing well. Please ask Ault something.
“I know that he (Ault) had some comments during the week,” Chryst said. “He obviously knows Kap. I feel like after having been around Kap, you kind of know him as well. So, what he observes is what he observes and what I observe is what I observe.”
Speaking about Ault like he’s some mediocrity. Pick up the phone and use a resource. A good coach uses every resource available.
Even Greg Roman used the resource. The man you replaced as the 49ers’ offensive coordinator traveled to Reno and met Ault in person. “That was very valuable time spent,” Roman said in 2012. “He’s a very good football coach that was very accommodating.”
Not you, Geep.
“Is there anything to (Ault’s) critique that Kaepernick is dropping his elbow?” I asked Chryst. “Is that something you watch?”
Chryst laughed. He said recently he was joking with Kaepernick that he should throw like Philip Rivers, elbow low, almost pinned to his side. Chryst thought that was really funny. Wait a minute, Geep. Rivers is a five-time Pro Bowler. Your guy is a no-time Pro Bowler.
What does Rivers have to do with Kaepernick anyway? Rivers is one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the league. Kaepernick isn’t. Kaepernick is no Philip Rivers. He’s also no Aaron Rodgers, no Tom Brady, no Carson Palmer, no Russell Wilson. He’s Colin Kaepernick for better or worse.
Wednesday, I asked Kaepernick about Ault’s comments.
“It’s something that I constantly work on my mechanics and fundamentals to make sure I’m out there throwing the ball the best way I can,” Kaepernick said. “Ultimately, whether the receiver catches the ball and the ball is in the right position is the only thing that matters.”
Translation: Mechanics do matter.
Matt Barrows of the the Sacramento Bee followed up. “Do you sometimes have to drop your elbow and throw sidearm to adapt (to pressure)?”
“Once again, mechanics are … I’m not huge on them,” Kaepernick said. Translation: Mechanics don’t matter.
This guy’s thinking is all over the place just like his passes.
“Is Chris Ault correct in his assessment?” I asked.
“Of … ?” Kaepernick asked, Kaepernick being coy, pretending he forgot what we were talking about.
I reminded him.
“I don’t look at film that closely about my mechanics of where my elbow is at,” he replied.
Funny, Joe and Steve worked on mechanics all the time. You know who Joe and Steve are, Colin. Steve worked on mechanics for years as Joe’s understudy. And you’re above all that? You wonder why you never get better despite all the quarterback gurus you work with.
If I ran the 49ers, I would make you go to one of two places in the offseason after first considering whether I even would keep you on my roster for next season.
1. 3DQB at USC. That’s where Tom House, a former Major League pitching coach, teaches throwing mechanics to quarterbacks. He has worked with Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Carson Palmer, Andy Dalton and Alex Smith.
2. The United States Olympic Committee Training Facility in Colorado. This lab has the most modern technology coupled with experts who evaluate in slow-motion each and every segment of an athlete’s throwing mechanics, whether he or she is throwing a javelin, shotput, discus, hammer, baseball, football, rock — you name it.
If you’re not interested in investing your time and energy in learning the right mechanics, Colin, please hand in your Niners jersey and take your mediocrity elsewhere.
Grant Cohn writes sports columns and the “Inside the 49ers” blog for The Press Democrat’s website. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.