It’s the most wonderful time of the sports year. In case there was any idea that I tried to re-write a Christmas carol, I’m talking about Super Bowl week with Super Bowl Sunday looming.
There are enough storylines to spark intrigue for everyone watching. This will likely be Ray Lewis’ last game of his 17-year Hall of Fame career, Joe Flacco is going to continue his ascension into the top tier of NFL quarterbacks, and there’s the Harbaugh Bowl that everyone is glowing abut as head coaches Jim and John Harbaugh will be the first pair of brothers to compete against one another in a championship game.
With those storylines taken into account, there’s one thing about this Sunday that is especially interesting: Colin Kaepernick.
We’re all familiar with how Kaepernick was given an opportunity to start once Alex Smith was benched and how well he’s played since then. He’s elevated the San Franciso 49ers’ passing attack, he’s added to an already stout rushing attack, and he’s also the latest example of how the quarterback position is being revolutionized in the NFL.
It isn’t often that mobile quarterbacks win Super Bowls. Daunte Culpepper never did, Donovan McNabb never did, Randall Cunningham, and the most recent example is Aaron Rodgers. Now, the mobile quarterback is elevating teams to levels that we haven’t seen before.
Andrew Luck won 11 games with a Colts team that went 2-14 just a year ago, Robert Griffin III took the Redskins to their first division title in 14 years, Rodgers has won both a regular season and Super Bowl MVP in the last three years, Cam Newton has broken plenty records as he acts as the only glimmer of hope that the Panthers stake claim to, and here is Kaepernick being on the verge of a Super Bowl championship.
In the past, the pocket quarterback has been the standard to which all quarterbacks were held. The Tom Bradys, Peyton Mannings, Kurt Warners, and Drew Brees of the world were the only models of quarterback that teams looked to build around.
That came with valid reasoning. Aside from Steve Young and John Elway, no Super Bowl winning quarterback has ever rushed for 3,000 yards. Quarterbacks who run just weren’t prevalent; they weren’t seen as the formula to success. Joe Montana, Tom Brady, Troy Aikman, the list goes on when it comes to the pocket passers that have been associated with Super Bowl lore.
In steps Colin Kaepernick as he ushers in the first legitimate era of mobile NFL quarterbacks. The individual statistics of these guys is one thing, but what stands out is the legitimate opportunity for them all to become the best players and winners of their generation.
The fact that they run isn’t the only thing that’s special about Kaepernick and his peers, it’s the combination of passing savvy and legitimate mobility that gives them advantages that defenses can’t prepare for and traditional pocket passers can’t compete with.
In Kaepernick’s short time as a starter, he’s run for more yards in one game (181) than any quarterback ever, amassed a QB rating of at least 100.2 in five of nine starts, and led his team to a Super Bowl all while learning on the job.
So, as Super Bowl Sunday looms closer, there will definitely plenty for us to watch for. Ray Lewis’ last tackle will be bittersweet, Joe Flacco’s last touchdown pass of the season may be the cash cow of the year, and the Harbaugh Brothers may be matching up for their only championship game against one another.
But Colin Kaepernick will end up ushering in an era of explosiveness and athleticism that we haven’t seen in the NFL before. So with each throw, run, and option fake that we see this weekend, enjoy the view. It’s one to get used to for years to come.