NFL Films analyst Greg Cosell spoke on KNBR Thursday morning. Here’s what he said about Colin Kaepernick, Alex Smith, and the 49ers Super Bowl chances.
Q: How did Colin Kaepernick play against the Saints?
COSELL: What Kaepernick gives you is more passing dimensions (than Smith). There are two elements to that: No.1. Kaepernick is willing to pull the trigger on throws that I’m not sure Alex Smith would be willing to pull the trigger on. There was a great example last week in the fourth quarter on the field goal drive. It was third and 10, and he hit Delanie Walker down the seam. That was a tough throw. You have to be willing to pull the trigger on a throw like that first and foremost. Then, the second part of that is he’s capable of making some throws that I’m not sure Alex can make. What Kaepernick gives you is more passing dimensions, and you need those dimensions if you want to be a champion.
Q: Do you think Kaepernick made good decisions in the Saints game?
COSELL: Yeah, I did. Look, the interception he threw at the end of the half – he can’t make that throw, because he totally lost his clarity and definition with the bad snap. In some ways, you give him a mulligan for that. For the most part, I thought he played very, very efficiently.
Q: Was the decision making on par with what Alex would do?
COSELL: Yeah, I don’t think there’s a problem at all with his decisions. And I mentioned the Delanie Walker throw – I don’t believe that Smith could have made the throw. There was a play to Crabtree in the third quarter where they were deep in their own territory, and Kaepernick got them out from being behind their own ten yard line. It was to Crabtree on the right sideline. That was an arm-strength throw. Kaepernick sat on his back foot and he drove the ball between defenders in a very small void in a zone. I’m not sure Alex Smith would even attempt a throw like that. Kaepernick does, and he makes it.
Q: Does Kaepernick’s arm strength remind you of anyone?
COSELL: He’s got a very good arm. It’s hard for me to say that. There are guys in this league who have very good arms – Joe Flacco, Jay Cutler, Matthew Stafford – these guys have big arms. I’m not sure I can say Kaepernick’s right there, but I would say that arm strength is not an issue at all. The ball comes out with an awful lot of velocity. The other thing that I think is a big factor, and I think it’s a tribute to the coaching staff – I think since he’s been with the 49ers, his delivery has been speeded up. It’s more compact. He’s a long, lanky guy. When I watched him at Nevada when I did my draft work, he had kind of a deliberate, long delivery. That’s been speeded up, and that’s coaching. Geep Chryst is the quarterbacks coach – he must be doing an outstanding job, just based on what the result is on film during the games.
Q: Are the receivers running the same routes? Would Alex just not throw to those guys downfield?
COSELL: We talked about this last year when I said Alex Smith had some limitations and the coaches were doing a really good job minimizing those limitations. First of all, they told you that when they went after Peyton Manning. Now they’re telling you that by what they’re doing with Colin Kaepernick. I think at a certain point, Alex Smith can only go to a certain level with the throws he can make, and I think they know that.
Q: I would imagine the 49ers will highly motivated after that tie against the Rams a few weeks ago.
COSELL: I would imagine that this team believes it can win a Super Bowl right now. I’m sure they want home field. There’s no question this is a Super Bowl defense. If they can continue to get big plays in the pass game, with their run game, then they have all the necessary dimensions. I’m sure they believe that they’re a true Super Bowl contender right now.