This is my Thursday column.
Is Colin Kaepernick serious about his craft?
He says he wants to become a better quarterback. He says he wants to train with a guru. He says the right things.
Jeff Garcia took him at his word. About a week ago, Garcia publicly volunteered to mentor Kaepernick. Garcia makes a living coaching quarterbacks. He has his own regimen and routine and everything, even has his own facility in San Diego where he coaches high school quarterbacks, college quarterbacks and professional quarterbacks. He coached Mark Sanchez in 2013, helped turn his career around. This past August, the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League hired Garcia to be their quarterbacks coach.
Garcia is serious.
On Tuesday, Kaepernick rejected Garcia’s offer and decided to train with Kurt Warner instead. Warner is not a coach. Warner is a broadcaster and a former quarterback who has tutored no one.
I imagine Colin Kaepernick sitting at a desk, holding a pencil and making a list of positive qualities for Garcia and Warner.
Under Garcia, Kaepernick writes:
1. A coach.
2. A former 49er.
3. A West-Coast-Offense guy.
4. A mobile quarterback
Under Warner, Garcia writes:
1. Not a coach.
2. Not a former 49er.
3. Not a West-Coast-Offense guy.
4. Not a mobile quarterback.
Kaepernick agonizes over the list for hours. “What a tough choice,” he gasps.
Even if Warner had coaching experience, which he doesn’t, his football knowledge wouldn’t have value for Kaepernick. Warner was a drop-back passer, not a bootleg, sprint-out, running quarterback like Kaepernick. Warner couldn’t move. How can Warner take Kaepernick’s athletic assets and integrate them into Kaepernick’s quarterback development? Warner has no background in that.
Garcia lived it. He could move. He understands Kaepernick’s impulse to ditch the pocket and run around – Garcia had that urge, too. Garcia overcame that and turned himself into a proficient passer inside the pocket and outside the pocket. Warner can’t relate to that experience.
It’s possible I’m focusing too much on Warner. Warner won’t work with Kaepernick more than a few days a week, according to the Sacramento Bee. Warner will be a guest lecturer, not a full-time teacher.
Someone named Dennis Gile will be the full-time teacher. Gile is 33 years old. His accomplishments include playing quarterback at Central Missouri State and tutoring Tim Tebow in 2013.
“Dennis unlocked (Tebow’s) upper body,” Trent Dilfer gushed to the Los Angeles Times in 2013. “Tim had been so locked up. When your upper body is locked up, you cannot be fluid. So, you’re going to naturally be choppy. He was choppy with his legs and choppy with his stroke. This guy [Gile] is good with biomechanics, and he unlocked him – or at least he taught Tim how to unlock himself.”
Thank goodness for Gile, the key master. Without him, Tebow’s career might have ended.
Now Gile is talking about unlocking Kaepernick’s upper body. “If I could get him to be a little more relaxed at times, I think that would help him,” he told the Sacramento Bee. It’s like Gile knows one thing which he applies to every quarterback he coaches, the unlock-the-upper-body maneuver.
Even if Gile knows two things, even if he and Warner are serious quarterback teachers, the whole offseason training project would be fruitless.
What’s the good of one or two guys coaching Kaepernick for 11 weeks, and then someone else – the Niners’ new quarterback coach – coaching him for the next eight months? That’s like studying Spanish for a year abroad in France.
Warner and Gile do not speak the same football language the 49ers speak. Before training camp starts, Kaepernick would have to unlearn everything they taught him – mechanics, concepts, terms, all of it. The 49ers have their own terminology. They coach quarterback mechanics their own way. They have a tradition which Warner and Gile have no knowledge of or connection to.
For the training to carry over into the season, the 49ers’ quarterbacks coach would have to join Kaepernick in Phoenix and study everything Warner and Gile teach him. Not likely to happen.
Here’s a better idea: Tell Warner and Gile to get lost. Hire Garcia to be the 49ers’ full-time quarterbacks coach. Make sure Garcia and Kaepernick spend every single day together, starting now.
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.