For Kaepernick and Wilson, two paths to the spotlight

This is my Thursday column.

Jim Harbaugh isn’t helping Colin Kaepernick. All this talk of greatness is a burden.

Here’s what Harbaugh said at Sunday’s postgame press conference: “(Kaepernick) is a great player. I don’t know how everybody else doesn’t see it that way. Great with a capital ‘G.’ At the highest level of great.”

Never mind that Kaepernick’s passer rating ranks 17th in the NFL. Never mind that he has been a B-plus quarterback his whole career. Never mind that he has not improved. Harbaugh says he’s great.

Compare Harbaugh to his rival, Pete Carroll. Carroll spoke about Russell Wilson on a conference call with Bay Area reporters this week. Vic Fangio had compared Wilson’s running ability to Barry Sanders’ a few hours before, so a reporter Carroll if he agreed with the comparison.

“No,” Carroll explained.

“You think that comparison is a bit much?” The reporter asked.

“I know Vic coached against Barry back in the day,” Carroll said, “and I don’t know if there ever has been a player who makes a defensive coach or coordinator cringe more and tense up more when you watch him play because he could score from anywhere on the field. I think he’s really one of the great open-field guys that has ever played this game.

“I don’t know if Russell’s ready for that right now. Every now and then he gets out and makes a few yards and tries to get out of bounds without getting hit – that’s not at all like Barry Sanders. In all respect to Vic’s comments, they’re both smaller than most guys at their positions.”

Listening to Carroll, you’d think Wilson is a good, little player. Listening to Harbaugh, you’d think Kaepernick is the second coming of Y.A. Tittle, Joe Montana and Steve Young all rolled into one.

None of this is new. Harbaugh created larger-than-life expectations from the onset of Kaepernick’s career.

Harbaugh made Kaepernick the anointed one. Kaepernick never beat out Alex Smith in training camp for the starting job. But Smith beat out Kaepernick twice in preseason head-to-head competition. Smith was a veteran who led the team to the playoffs in 2011. He played even better in 2012 before he got a concussion.

That’s when Harbaugh gifted the starting job to Kaepernick based on Harbaugh’s projection or vision or hunch that Kaepernick would be great. Harbaugh turned Kaepernick into a controversial figure – some players on the team were pro-Smith, others were pro-Kaepernick. Harbaugh put tremendous pressure on Kaepernick to justify Harbaugh’s decision and to live up to Harbaugh’s image of him.

Kaepernick could not go through the normal growing pains a young quarterback goes through. Harbaugh created the perception that Kaepernick could just bypass that stage of his career altogether. He had already arrived.

Carroll never created that perception for Wilson. Carroll never anointed Wilson, either. And he never put on the pressure.

Wilson was a third-round pick to begin with. He played three unspectacular seasons at North Carolina State. Before his senior season, it was clear the North Carolina State coaching staff preferred Wilson’s backup, Mike Glennon, currently on the Buccaneers. So Wilson signed a minor-league-baseball contract with the Rockies. Then he transferred to the University of Wisconsin to play quarterback for a run-first program.

The Seahawks didn’t draft Wilson expecting him to become a superstar or their franchise guy. The Seahawks took a shot on a 5-foot-10 pipsqueak who might be better suited playing second base.

Wilson’s rookie season during training camp, the pipsqueak flat out beat out veteran quarterback Matt Flynn. No controversy. Wilson earned the job. I doubt there were any pro-Flynn Seahawks, except for maybe Flynn.

This allowed Carroll to make Wilson’s job easy. Wilson earned the right to start as a beginner and to learn and grow on the job. At first, Carroll made Wilson a move-around guy – a quarterback who mostly rolls out and scrambles. Carroll would be happy if Wilson could throw 18 times and complete 11 of them per game.

Carroll created a low-pressure, low-scrutiny environment in contrast to Harbaugh who created a high-pressure, high-scrutiny environment. Harbaugh put a microscope on Kaepernick. First, Kaepernick had to prove he was better than Smith, something Kaepernick still has yet to do. Now, Kaepernick has to prove he’s great, something he isn’t, just because Harbaugh said he is.

Neither Kaepernick nor Wilson is great. They’re basically the same quarterback, give or take a few inches. Neither guy is a premier pocket passer. Each has periods when he doesn’t see an open receiver or he bounces a pass or he overthrows someone downfield. Both improvise well. Kaepernick is faster. Wilson is quicker.

Both rely on their athleticism. Both need to master the mental side of the game. As they age, their athleticism will erode and their football intelligence must grow to compensate. The more a quarterback studies, the more he can let the system work for him.

Will Kaepernick reach that level of mastery?

How could he if Harbaugh insists he’s already “at the highest level of great?” Move over, Joe and Steve and Y.A. The great one has arrived.

Grant Cohn writes sports columns and the “Inside the 49ers” blog for The Press Democrat’s website. You can reach him at grantcohn@gmail.com.

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  1. Some interesting points toward the end, but you state:

    Never mind that he has not improved.
    That is flat out wrong, and if you do honest study of Kaepernick’s play using film from 2012, 2013 and 2014, the question becomes not if he’s improved, but how much he’s improved. Even Kap’s professional detractors and informed observers have modified their analysis to account for his improving play in the pocket and going through progression reads. The operative debate now is whether he’s improving quickly enough to match outside media perception and expectations.

    Your article shows you don’t appreciate or choose not to understand Harbaugh’s motivational psychology. He constantly sticks up for players, even those that appear to be extreme lost causes (e.g. AJ Jenkins). I think the pressure you believe Harbaugh is placing on Kaepernick is something Harbaugh (and Kaepernick) welcome. Harbaugh thrives in pressure and chaos. He wants you to write articles like this, so actually, as I think about it, you are playing right into his hands.

    Grant, fess up. Did Harbaugh privately ask you to write something slamming Kaepernick on the eve of a huge game against the Seahawks? :-)

    1. HOLY CRAP!

      I AM TRULY SPEECHLESS AFTER THAT HOT GARBAGE,

      The only question that I have for the younger Cohn…..?

      Where can I meet you with any courage on your part behind your keyboard?

  2. Cheatin pete wasn’t asked if the Oompa Loompa was great he was just told of the quote and the comparison and responded. Not the same thing as Harbaugh calling Colin great, which he totally isn’t. You needed to follow up with Harbaugh and make the same comparison and see if he also played it down or agreed.

  3. If Harbaugh made decisions on who plays QB based on performance in TC and pre-season, then Alex Smith would still be the starting QB for the 49ers.

    Instead he based it on performance in live action. The job wasn’t gifted to Kaep by Harbaugh, he saw how well Kaep played while Smith was hurt and stuck with him. The only reason there was controversy is that both players were playing very well in 2012. But to say Kaep was gifted the job is stretching the truth. He was given a shot to show his strong play in relief duty wasn’t a fluke.

  4. “(Kaepernick) is a great player.”

    We can put that one up on the wall next to, “He has the best hands I’ve ever seen” for Crabtree or “Alex Smith is a Pro Bowler”.

    Harbaugh has always been over the top in his praise for players, especially when he feels they are being criticized.

          1. That is quite a change in thinking.

            Perhaps quibbling here, but while Kaep only got his opportunity when he did because of Smith’s injury, Smith didn’t really lose his job due to injury. To lose his job due to injury would have meant he lost the job because he was unable to perform at the same level following the injury.

            Smith lost the starting job because Kaep looked very good when he was given a shot, and coach decided he liked what Kaep gave them better than what Smith gave them.

          2. He shouldn’t lose his job to injury”
            You really believe that’s why he lost his job huh? Lol
            And btw you’re still wrong. I’ll believe ex qb’s telling me he’s improving over a guy who is obviously wrong

      1. No you weren’t. When you wrote, “If the 49ers go back to Smith and they don’t win the Super Bowl, the question which always will remain unanswered and open to speculation will be how far they might have gone if they had stayed with Kaepernick instead of going back to Smith?” you were dead on.

        Where you messed up was saying that Harbaugh “gifted” the starting job to Kaepernick.

        As you wrote back after the Bears game, “Kaepernick took the starting job” from Smith.

      2. I remember when i used to come to this site to get inside info on the 49ers..now i barely visit because we have someone who loves to trash my team and often back pedals on most of his statements….

      3. Grant: You stated ” I was wrong” in respect to your take on the replacement of Smith by Kaepernick. What makes someone change their mind? Usually they make their decisions based on the situation existing at that time and then when the situation changes then their perception changes and they change their mind. It would imply that you presently feel you were too hasty in your opinion that it was the proper move. You are admitting that you were premature in your assessment. ————– Well!!!! Are you doing the same thing and being premature in your assessment now as well. Projecting your perception and view of the future purely on the present situation? To really be good at prognostication one has to be able to consider the variables that influence the present and consider that those variables might change for the future. The situation and variables are very much different today than they were in 2012. This is a different team facing different challenges. The conditions and situation might change as the season rolls on and will definitely change for next season. Consider that before making predictions.

        You can not just define a player based entirely on their productions rather one must consider the circumstances under which that production was produced. Basically I am saying your evaluations are premature because they seem to be based purely on immediate production. The focus on immediate gratification has been the down fall of the USA economically. The generation that preceeded yours was not much better. To say it very simply— They ( you ) are not as smart as you believe yourselves to be. You write your articles based on the response you can get today rather than taking the time to consider whether the idea’s are well thought out and will withstand the test of time. In a couple years you will again have to say ” I WAS WRONG”. But that’s only if someone can access this past article to hold you accountable.

      4. GRANT
        WOW people waited sooo long to hear those words come out of your mouth and when they finally came I don’t know what to say.
        I believe making that admission proves that YOU are making incremental progress in improving as a writer. Unless of course you are saying that now to justify this column being right, but who cares

      5. This is another disingenuous entry Grant. You’ve pieced together different times from the previous 3-4 years to come up with a way to make Harbaugh look bad and Carroll look like a sage and nothing could be further from the truth.

        Pete Carroll has gushed about Wilson from day one about as much as Harbaugh did with Kap. Harbaugh didn’t anoint Kap when he replaced Smith with him. He simply said he was going with the hot hand and made no promises that it would stay that way. At the time pretty much everyone agreed with the move including you.

        The fact Harbaugh said what he said after last weeks game is just a continuing trend of a Coach who pumps up his players. He’s done it with Alex Smith before Kap and will continue doing so

        1. You’re really spreading the cheer this morning aren’t ya Rocket. How about you give Grant a day off and just let everyone enjoy the spirit of the holidays old top. :)

      6. So, it’s in the realm of possibility (actually, based on past performance, more than a possibility) that you’re are wrong again.

        Back to the real world: Harbaugh made the correct decision subbing Kaep for Smith. Kaep is not a “great” QB, if the term “great” has any meaning. He is a very good QB who has improved a little in the pocket. But, Kaep makes plays that no other QB will even try, and on those plays he is great.

  5. Wow! As if all of us can evaluate Kap. If Roman thinks he had progressed and H. Said he is Great then how can we evaluate? Wins, road success? These are pretty good. I see a rapidly devolving player with an O line in serious transition.

    How many teams has GC coached? I will defer to the professionals. They have a better track record.

    1. I noted that today on ESPN, (admittedly a limited value source many times), Steve Young said that he sees continued low angle ramp improvement in CK’s Full Service QB
      Status. He specifically said that Colin is better in the pocket. Now I know that Steve doesn’t have Grant-like credibility, but it’s an interesting take.

  6. “Kaepernick never beat out Alex Smith in training camp for the starting job.”

    True. But, Alex was and is a starting QB.

    “Wilson’s rookie season during training camp, the pipsqueak flat out beat out veteran quarterback Matt Flynn.”

    Matt Flynn? the guy who made a tidy sum because of one big game while subbing in for Rodgers? Flynn was and is a back-up QB.

  7. “Listening to Harbaugh, you’d think Kaepernick is the second coming of Y.A. Tittle, Joe Montana and Steve Young all rolled into one.” ~ Grant Cohn

    Writers embellishment much?
    A little over the top in an effort to make your point here Grant.

    We all know (and you do as well) that Harbaugh has always talked-up his players when describing them. It’s Harbaugh’ way.

    The Alex Smith concussion situation may have looked like a raw deal but CK had been inserted into some game situations from the start of the season and been productive in his few appearances. I remember him coming in on one series in which he threw a long pass to Randy Moss in the endzone (even against heavy coverage) and put the ball in Moss’ hands but was dropped.
    It was at that moment that I knew we had a QB who could not only throw the long pass, but was unafraid to do so even against tight coverage.

    But his game against a then strong Bears team sealed Alex Smith’ fate. The pass to Kyle Williams running near the sideline was something I hadn’t seen from a 49er QB since the days of Steve Young. CK went on to throw a laser TD pass on a crossing pattern to Crabtree as well.

    His first game of the season in 2013 against the Packers made me completely forget about Alex Smith. Kap looked unbeatable in that game and showed great poise after taking a cheap-shot out of bounds by Matthews.

    Unfortunately, that game against the Packers may have been Kap’ best overall as a passer and runner.
    What we’ve seen since is a little inconsistency from CK and just incremental growth.
    But a little growth is much better than regressing.
    CK needs to make his mark as the type of QB that can be counted on to win the big games and tomorrow is a good place to start.

    1. Y. A. Tittle was in NYC before he went anywhere. The 49ers, at that time, had plenty of offense and no defense. That’s even worse than what we have.

      1. The 49ers gave up on Tittle because they thought that they had the missing piece in Brodie. Of course it did not work out that way. And for you young guys who where not around at that time, the controversy was just as great then as it was for Montana /Young and for Smith/Kaepernick… It’s the San Francisco way!

  8. ” …..First, Kaepernick had to prove he was better than Smith, something Kaepernick still has yet to do…”

    Really, Grant ??

    1. Aaron Rogers owns Alex .. but
    Kaep owns Rogers …

    (Not sure about this one .. but I’ll throw it out there anyhoo)

    2. Has Alex ever beaten Tom Brady (in a shoot out)
    in Tom’s house ?

    I’m sure others, here .. better than me .. can site
    lots more examples, Grant ..so I’ll just say …

    How soon they forget”

  9. way over the top grant but of course he’s going to pump them up more he did more than Russell Wilson in college he’s going to do more than him in the pros and if it wasn’t for that top ranked defense he wouldn’t even have a super boring right now and the things that Kaepernick has done in his short NFL career largely outweigh the things that Russell Wilson has done other than his one Superbowl ring and I’m tired of people trying to compare the improvements of both quarterbacks when clearly Kaepernick is far ahead of Russell Wilson its obvious by how much he has to run every week the 49ers are becoming the team that most of you writers media and TV personality love to hate because we’ve come so close and yet haven’t finished but trust and belive in the end Kaepernick will have more Super Bowls and wins then Russell Wilson by the end of their career

  10. A few observations about the way Harbaugh discusses players, especially quarterbacks.

    – He praises all his players, especially quarterbacks. Remember the stir when he called Alex Smith “Elite?”

    – He says only positive things about his players, no matter how nonsensical it may sound to outside.

    – Its all “audience, audience, audience” with Harbaugh. If your paycheck doesn’t say “49ers” on the front, he could care less if his words sound rational or not, or if your happy with what he said.

    – As far as “gifting” the job to Colin…

    I think Harbaugh decided to replace Alex Smith after that catastrophic 2012 regular season game vs NYG. In the previous twelve quarters, Alex won the first two, the Giants defense dominated the following ten.

    Harbs was desperate for “chaos production”, and made the change despite knowing Colin was still very raw. (The Giants pulled a fast one by missing the playoffs all together).

    How do I know this? I’m basing my theory on shallow, one dimensional reasoning, my own egotism and pure hunch.

  11. The difference between Kap and Wilson is, Wilson remains cool under pressure.

    By the 4th Qtr. Kap begins to crack under pressure and loses his confidence, and then fear creeps in that clouds his decision process…..

    If the 49ers fall behind, watch Kap’s facial expressions and his eyes during the 2nd half of the game. Facial expressions tell the true story…..

    1. Do you mean like he folded against New England? Oh, I forgot, we lost Smith and the defense couldn’t pressure Brady in the last twenty minutes. Who threw the winning touchdown pass?

      This week, against Washington, Colin had one chance to win the game and he did. Selective memory can mislead, but it’s still true that a lot of knowledgeable people are seeing improvement. Will he go as far as other quarterbacks who got it late like Steve Young and Drew Brees? I don’t know, but if he doesn’t improve to match Harbaugh’s hyperbole, it won’t be because he’s dumb, lazy, or a coward.

      If you think you can read Colin’s facial expressions, remember there were renowned experts who once thought they could identify criminals by examining the bumps on their heads.

      1. Just because of the Bears game, Pats game, playoff games,none of that matters. It’s a what have you done for me lately business. He hasn’t accumulated enough swag yet.
        This year against the Bears, Cards, Rams, Broncos he looked panicked.
        That’s the concern. There is no “cool Joe” in his game.

        1. Your comments sound like what fans were saying about Steve Young until the very high budget 49ers finally beat Dallas to get into the 1995 Superbowl. “Nothing matters until … “

          1. And that’s true! The more wins you accumalete and the more big wins you accumulate you get the recognition you deserve.

            1. I don’t see anyone here saying that Kap has arrived or is anywhere near elite.
              Being ranked as the 17th best QB in the league at the moment puts him in the middle o the pack. Harbaugh is notorious for talking-up his players and that goes double for his QB’s.

              We all know that CK has a way to go to be a top 5 QB in the NFL. But some of us also know that he is working very hard to achieve that goal, and all I ask from my QB is that he continues to work at his craft.
              Trying to label him as being fearful in big games is absolutely ridiculous.

              As a Colt, Payton Manning had a rough time getting past Tom Brady in big games, that certainly couldn’t be blamed on fear.
              As I said earlier, fear has had nothing to do with the big loses in CK’ career so far. It would have been fear not having the wherewithal to bring his team to the brink of victory in the Superbowl and the championship game. But he did bring the team to the brink of victory on those last series in those games, he just could not get it done. But like P.Manning against the Patriots, it wasn’t due to fear.

      2. htwaits—That was because when the arrested people suspected of a crime the police used to beat them with their billy clubs. Therefore the all ended up with bumps on their heads. lol.

        1. True. Hair line was also a good indicator. We can prove anything with the “right” sample selection as Grant constantly points out. Throw out the good runs, you’ve got an old man playing a kids game. Throw out the bad runs or plays killed by bad line play, and you’ve got an amazing veteran back who can still get it done.

          Enjoy.

    2. I’ve never seen fear in CK’ eyes regardless of the score. If anything, it’s the opposite. His undeterred competitive nature has caused him to take unnecessary shots downfield that have cost him in the final moments of the biggest games – not fear.

      Of the INT’ thrown in the championship game last year, the one on the sidelines by Chanceller was just a bad throw because he threw an awful pass.
      The one in the endzone to end the game was forced, but it was also a good play by both Sherman and Smith. Had Smith not been in good position to make the INT from Sherman’ batted pass we could have lived to see another play – and who knows.
      That throw by Kap at the end of the game was not precipitated by fear, it just was not a good choice to go to Crabtree on the play.
      Fear had nothing to do with it.

    3. Can someone look up hoe many 4Q comebacks each QB has. Someone posted it the other day in regards to Kap having 7. How many does Wilson have?

  12. I don’t know about NC State’s offense, but I’ve read it was WCO when Wilson played there.

    I think the year playing under Paul Chryst (in a pro-set offense) at Wisconsin helped Wilson tremendously. That system produced Tolzien too. Rookie quarterbacks are for more ready to fight for a pro job after going through Chryst’s system.

    I knew Wilson would take Flynn’s job as soon as I saw his quick release in a preseason game. He was (almost) as pro ready as you can get. Maybe not Andrew Luck ready, but close.

    1. It’s a wonder that Andrew Luck found a job in the NFL. After all, he was coached by that fool Jim Harbaugh, who ran a power based run first offense at Stanford.

      1. I think Jim’s an excellent quarterbacking teacher.

        Its a small world.

        – Paul Chryst was Tolzien and Wilson’s coach at Wisconsin.
        – Geep Chryst is the 49ers QB coach.
        – Keller Chryst (Geep’s son) is now a Stanford QB. His high school youtube highlights remind me a bit of Luck.

    2. I completely agree both Kaepernick and Alex played in wide open offenses in college. Thats why it took Alex so long(along with lack of continuity) and Kaep right now to develop. Also Grant you made a point a couple days ago that the niners dont have the receivers turn for hot routes yet I clearly remember in the game against New England Kaep and Crab read the all out blitz and Kaep got it to him for the touchdown. Why would an offense say that. You really should get your facts straight before writing about an offense that neither you me or anybody in this blog knows whats going on.

    1. How about the core of the article, that being that players do not need any more added pressure than they have just by being a professional athlete fighting every day for your job and the stress that the next snap could be your last. I thought this room talked football not the I got you game but of course we are never incorrect only others.

          1. htwaits ..

            I’ll throw this one at the wall, and see if it
            sticks ..

            Proposal :

            Doncha think Grant .. is “practicing” a kind of
            “Sports Psychology” ??

            Think about it …
            He writes a blog column which hammers .. the
            coaches, players … and heck .. if it could cause
            a ruckus .. he’d probably hammer the equipment
            manager ! ..

            Anyhoo .. it does indeed .. cause a ruckus..
            and we.. hammer him for doing it …
            The more he does it … the more we respond ..

            and the Press Democrat sees this as a successful blog
            with so many hits !!

            Feather in his cap !

            I mean .. ask any Bay Arean about a guy named
            Perry Stone .. who did a shock-jock gig over
            at KSJO …

            He made a pretty good living at it …

            (of course .. he eventually got canned for going too far)

            Not sayin’ Grant is anything like Perry Stone .. but
            the “psychology” of using the “shock” formula
            can be successful …

            1. I’m not sure what the Post Democrat gets from the number of posts in this blog. If the small number of individuals who respond to baiting generate a massive number of new hits, then that’s a possible source of benefit to the paper.

              There is very little advertising sold for this blog. I doubt if many new subscriptions are generated.

              I’m sure that Lowell has sold a lot of news papers to folks who either love or hate his writing.

              All I can see leading from a blog like this one is practice toward writing a feature or syndicated column in the future. We know that’s possible because it’s been done several times.

              1. This blog (for Grant) .. is a “bully pulpit” ..
                a stepping stone, (if you will) .. which has the
                potential to lead to (perhaps) .. some
                bigger and better things .. in the world of sports
                writing .. however ..

                I think that will be dependent
                on which “fork” in the road (ahead) .. Grant
                chooses to take …

                One fork leads to where he’ll achieve acceptance,
                recognition and respect in the industry .. (like
                Barrows and Maiocco .. who are often
                quoted in the National sports press )…

                and the other fork leads to Kawakami ..

                Big question is ..

                which fork will Grant take ?

    1. Razor,

      It’s funny to read Grants entries doing a complete hindsight 180. I’d be shocked to see him stick with a position.

      1. Rocket
        Anecdotal memory on my part, but this is the only time I remember Grant saying he was wrong, and this time just to support a newer, contradictory assertion, not to admit human frailty.
        But was he wrong then and right now? Or the other way?
        There’s nothing wrong with changing your mind if you believe you have more or newer information to base your judgement upon. But Grant doesn’t get much of a pass on that from his readers because whenever he does put forth an assertion he tends to do so with ‘blinders’ on, dismissing all arguments or contrary points made, including in this case, his own.
        I will note that this article takes a position that some media types who have actually coached or played in the NFL are moving away from; that CK has flatlined his development. Wiser voices point to continued gradual improvement in his game. Its opinion and speculation all around, but Buyer Beware in what you believe.

        1. BT,

          It’s just a continuation of Grant following his Father’s style and trying to find a negative with the team to write a story about. Kap has made progress, it’s easy to see if you want to see it, but some would prefer to continue incorporating a myth while trying to rewrite history at the same time.

          He did say he was wrong so that’s one thing. Baby steps.

  13. Im sure that by publicly trashing CK Harbaugh would get the desired reaction out of him. Despite repeatedly saying “get one mph better every day” im sure he is convinced that CK has arrived and no longer needs to improve. Dumb like a fox: JH says “CK is great” the media immediately responds “No he is not” Voila us vs the world mentality. Freddie P soft nowhere to be seen

    Whats funny is now he is rubbing off on Vic, comparing RW to the best running back to ever play the game reminds me of Bill Belicheat trying to compare a crappy jets/bills/next opponent to the 85 bears every national media conference call. The next negative thing BB says about an opponent will be his first

  14. Razor .. htwaits, rocket, Jack, Claude, MidWest ..
    and all the other regulars of this blog,
    too numerous to list here ..
    I’d like to extend my wishes for all of you to have a very
    Happy Thanksgiving ..

    (you, too, Grant) …

    And when you guys get done with the big feast ..
    prepare yourselves to scare the neighbors by
    getting LOUD !

    and GO NINERS !!

    1. MWN,

      Thanks and same to you and everyone else who participates in this forum. Hopefully everybody is in the company of family and friends, enjoys a great long weekend and doesn’t get trampled trying to score a deal tomorrow.

    2. Thanks. Our extended family will sit down to eat the turkey, that I’m going to dress now, a little after the game starts. The DVR will be our friend so that we can time shift the noise and tension until a bit later. Then it might get noisy.

  15. Jim is certainly over the top in his praise. I have a few managers who work for me some of them are over the top in their praise and their workers tend to think they have arrived already and don’t have a desire to grow. I have others who are more like Vic and Pete who speak the truth. Those workers with the ego and desire to perform really well respond to those guys by being honest with themselves.

    I think in public Jim over does praise but I think behind closed doors it would be my guess that things are different. He shields his players from the media but privately holds them accountable. He certainly doesn’t believe Kap has arrived, but rather is speaking to what Kap could be or what Crabtree could be for instance. Good managers cast vision all the time for their employees. If he thinks Kap has arrived then he’s delusional. I think its a tactic to win player favor and to illustrate that we keep things in house that are private and we don’t expose each other to the media. JH is trying to build trust.

    This article seems to be tongue in cheek or have slight tinge of insincerity to it. Not sure Grant really believes JH is into his pressers that way. I think you forgot to note trajectories as well. Compare Alex’s first 4 seasons with Kap’s. Also not you’re pointing out Alex is ranked 21st among NFL QB’s right now. Its hard to take you serious on this.

    http://www.nfl.com/stats/categorystats?tabSeq=0&statisticCategory=PASSING&conference=null&season=2014&seasonType=REG&d-447263-s=PASSING_YARDS&d-447263-o=2&d-447263-n=1

          1. Grant I’ll take you at your word. I will revise my statement accordingly. Seems to be an oversimplification of JH’s motives and actions. If he truly believes what you are posing he’s a fool. Some coaches and players believe their own hype. I don’t take him for a fool or believing his own hype. I could be wrong.

        1. It changes from time to time. Last season it was passing yards and not
          QBR. So just find one that Alex Smith is leading Colin Kaepernick.

            1. I thought we read that Kap’s QBR in the early years was because of his running plays that won games with the ball in his hands. There were many detractors to his high QBR early on because it was better than some of the top QB’s who threw the ball more. Now that he’s running less and throwing more like a tradition QB it seems a to reveal some of the problems with the QBR rating.

              1. That’s their grade for Kaepernick. Their QB rating which accounts for drops, throw aways, spikes, and YAC has him 5th.

              2. Thanks Jack. I’m guessing they have the best grading system available for rating the QB’s although none are perfect.

              3. The disparity makes some sense. The grades take into account stuff like taking a sack when the ball should have been out, a throw away when there was an open receiver, etc. The rating only takes into account the result of throws.

                You have to be careful when using PFF grades across the league because even though there supposed to be standard each of their analyst’s are a little different.

                For the Kaepernick/Smith comparison, I think they’re basically the same player. The benefit of Kaepernick is that he’s been cheaper and still is.

          1. Alex is near last in yds per throw and a few other categories. After 9 years in the league he’s not as good as Kap is after 2.5 seasons starting. They do share some similarities because of the scheme they were in here in SF.

    1. “………a slight tinge of insincerity…..”
      No! Say it aint so!
      LOL. If this blog were a restaurant, that ‘tinge’ would be the specialty of the House flavor regime.

    2. As usual, Grant’s article takes a microcosm of information and presents it as the whole, unabridged truth. In this case we are led to believe that what Harbaugh says in front of the press is what he says to his players, and that Carroll’s one comment about Wilson is what he always says (and thinks) about Wilson.

      This is what Carroll said about Wilson at the start of the year:

      http://www.seahawks.com/news/articles/article-1/Pete-Carroll-on-Russell-Wilson-Look-at-the-quarterback-weve-got/09291be9-e629-4dc4-8edc-1a0578db49f0

      Sounds like a coach that is gushing about his QB to me. “When he starts moving, you want to standup because something great is going to happen.” Stop it Pete, remember, you are all about keeping expectations down, ok.

      Grant also wants us to now believe that Kaep was “gifted” the starting job by Harbaugh. Not that he played well in relief duty and deserved a shot based on his level of play. So while Wilson earned his role in competition during meaningless preseason games and practises, against a career backup in Flynn no less, Kaep didn’t earn his role by playing well when it actually counted. Seems a completely reasonable line of thinking.

      1. Further on the rhetoric around Harbaugh heaping pressure on Kaep while super coach Carroll doesn’t heap pressure on Wilson.

        When Kaep was drafted, Harbaugh came out and said Alex Smith was their QB. No QB controversy, no pressure on Kaep, Smith was their guy. Same at the start of 2012. He gave Kaep time to learn the system.

        With Wilson, on the other hand, Pete Carroll (aka the guy that never puts pressure on his QB) said before training camp in 2012 the expectation was then rookie Wilson would come in compete for the starting role. No pressure…

          1. No, not really. No more so than some of Grant’s other articles, anyway. I just think some of the points made were so one-sided and myopic they needed to be highlighted and a counter-point presented.

            1. Kaepernick always has been the subject of more scrutiny than Wilson, based on the parameters created by Harbaugh. Harbaugh is the one who labeled Kaepernnick “great.” Harbaugh’s hype created a larger-than-life myth for Kaepernick, which has not helped his growth.

              1. Kaepernick has been subjected to more scrutiny than Wilson because (a) he was a higher draft pick with the loftier expectations that entails, (b) media-professed QB guru Jim Harbaugh’s first NFL draft pick at QB, (c) was well known to be a phenomenal athlete, (d) was drafted by a team with a rich history in and expectation of their QBs, (e) was seen as the heir apparent to the first round “bust” taken by the previous regime (even though Nolan was long gone, it was still seen as the team he and McCloughan built), (f) took over the starting role in somewhat controversial circumstances.

                You have focused on just one of the six reasons listed above, which is the only one Jim Harbaugh was complicit in (unless you consider drafting the guy early as being Jim’s fault too).

                The idea that Jim saying he thinks Kaep is a great QB is creating pressure and scrutiny on Kaep is a pretty big leap. Defending your players in the media is pretty common practice, and something Harbaugh does with every player, so I don’t really see that as a reason for scrutiny or pressure. The scrutiny he is under at the moment is all about his level of play, and whether it is living up to the expectations formed by the six reasons I listed above.

              2. And because he was gifted the position over a playoff quarterback whose rating was 104. Harbaugh broke an unwritten rule of sports to anoint Kaepernick over a QB who was having a Pro Bowl season.

              3. That is part of point (f) in the list I gave, though as I’ve outlined in earlier posts I don’t support the idea of labeling it as “gifting” him the job.

              4. The decision was controversial and emotional in the 49ers’ locker room. Many players disagreed with the decision. Harbaugh put the microscope on Kaepernick. Kaepernick had to be better than Smith right away and Smith was playing at a Pro Bowl level.

              5. The only 49er jersey I’ve ever purchase was a white #11 back in 2005. With that said after 7 years I was ready to move on to Colin and now after 3 years I’m ready to move on to someone else. Colin is better then Alex but both are just real good back up QB’s neither have the tools to win it all.

              6. Grant, I agree it was controversial and clearly something that wasn’t supported by all members of the locker room.

                To justify keeping Kaep in, Kaep had to at least be as good as Smith, and its hard to argue he wasn’t. In 2012 he did provide some excellent QB play and was a big reason for getting the team to the SB.

  16. I believe the Niners decided that Alex was not the long term answer right after the NFC championship game loss to the Giants. The point of no return was the sack Alex took early in the third quarter. Walker was open down the sidelines for a potential TD, but Alex hesitated and took a sack.

    They tried to land Manning in the off season to act as a bridge until Kap was ready. When Manning chose Denver, they decided to stick with Alex for one more year. However, they way Kap played after Alex got injured caused the Niners to move up the time to hand things over to Kap by half a season.

    Alex was as good as gone after 2012 even if he had not been injured.

    1. Hmmm, nvm. I saw a comment and then clicked on the link and it didn’t go anywhere so I assumed you deleted it.

    1. Yep, wishing a happy day to all-y’all, and health and prosperity to your families. And remember at large family gatherings to look around for the crazy uncle in your clan; if you can’t spot him, its probably you! ; >)

  17. Even though the Lions have been having trouble putting up points lately, the old eyeball test shows me some subtle growth in Stafford’s QB skills. He’s still the same guy, but his footwork is a little better and he shows some nuances that he didn’t use to display. He’s seasoning and developing still.
    Any chance Colin gets to do that? Nah! Throw out the baby with the bath water.
    Compare and contrast to RG3 who seemingly is regressing in timing, footwork, recognition. RG3 will not bust in the NFL, IMO, but he may need that second opportunity to establish himself.
    R.Wilson has had a slight roller coaster in his development curve this season, but I don’t doubt that he’ll grow and refine his game over time. He’s a smart guy, he sees how RG3’s game has diminished with his running skills. Russel will need to reduce his exposure to hits (like Colin) to enjoy a healthy career and lifestyle afterwards.
    It takes time to be a master craftsman or a black belt or a virtuoso performer.

    1. Good post Brotha. Golden Tate and a commitment to running the football has also helped Stafford.
      As for CK, what else does he need?

      1. Time & reps maybe?
        Line play and play – calling have been mentioned ad nauseum, but I’m not looking to make excuses. I think most guys will continue to grow, like Stanton and Hoyer for example. It’s just a question of how fast and the actual ceiling.
        So is CK failing or just not living up to fans’ and media expectations?

        1. Definitely expectations. When you take over a winning team, a championship team and told the reason is because he is able to make the offense more explosive, more dynamic. The expectation is high.
          I agree with Grant. Harbaugh has put undue pressure on CK. Then he keeps following it up with how great he is. He’s been good but great?

          1. Poor little Colin.

            I guarantee you that Kaepernick puts more pressure on himself to succeed than anything Harbaugh does or says.

              1. I’ve thought that, but that’s because that’s how I’m wired. Brees is a guy who is wound tight as a drum but can keep his head in the game. Yeah, a bit sketchy this year but he’s good. Brady somehow is hyper competitive but he plays cool.

              2. Kaepernick has been fine. The last 3 weeks he’s put together a rating over 98 when you factor in the 9 drops and a few throw aways, and he’s thrown only 3 int’s over his last 9 games. And you can add in a perfect 4-4 on the game winning drive a week ago.

                He has room for improvement, but so does everyone else associated with the offense.

                The focus being put on Kaepernick is a bit myopic and lazy.

    2. Brotha,
      Good points. Stafford was playing much better 2 years ago when we barely beat them in the championship game. But there have been some improvements in the technical side of his game over the last two seasons.

      Philip Rivers is another QB that is an interesting study. His game teeters from very good to very mediocre like Dow Jones.
      At the moment CK’ game reminds me a little of Rivers’ game of a few years ago. High potential, but too many inconsistent outings to get him over the top.

      Like Rivers, and even Steve Young before him, Kap will need to learn the intricacies of a pocket QB for his game to blossom.
      He is in that learning process now and will be better for it down the road.

  18. Coach Harbaw’s motivational psychology

    He thrives in/with pressure.

    Mrs. Harbaw #1 and Kaepernick himself
    (when his season ends early) both know the awful truth:

    Jim Harbaw cannot even spell the word ‘thrive’…
    too much self-inflicted pressure is counterproductive/psychotic.

    My money says Seattle will punch their playoff ticket today.

    1. You’d expect Frog Speak from Mud, n’est pas?
      You’d expect mis-spelling and faulty logic and stalking and Trolling from Mud also.

  19. Just read Washington benched R2D2 for Sunday’s game. Makes me think about how the bulk of the east coast sports media had him superior to Andrew Luck.

    In R2D2s defense, a friend of mine (rabid Broncos fan) predicted Mike Shanahan would wreck his shiny new quarterback. That seems to be the case. I hope Mr. Griffin heals up and has a good career.

    Happy Tryptophan day to all.

  20. Weird to see Da Bears playing soft Defense. Does Trestman get another year to get the D fixed and the O more consistent? If it was my call I’d keep him but dial 911 to the GM to get DL and OL help.

  21. re MM: 49ers activate Assante Cleveland, Garrett Celek.

    Derek Carrier to season ending IR.

    Wonder if Assante will play today. Here he’s beating single high safety coverage with a seam route. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6O0EMnJiZU

    Gee, I wonder who plays alot of single high? The name escapes me… something like the SeAdderal SeaRoids.

    1. Seattle’s tight end is down (Zach Miller is out too). We all know that VD is good for one drop, but hopefully he will have a breakout game.

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