Kaepernick has all the right moves

Niners GM Trent Baalke trotted out some film on the team's recent draft picks Thursday, but on the tape was a quarterback who certainly wasn't just trotting around. There was Colin Kaepernick, moving right, moving left, moving everywhere. This guy's got moves, all right, and a rocket arm to go with it, making this highlight reel a clear testament of why the 49ers are so excited about their new QB.

Baalke got together with 49ers beat writers at the team facility in Santa Clara to show tape on each of San Francisco's 10 selections in last month's draft, providing the voice-over analysis as each prospect was highlighted on the screen.

Equipped with a laser pointer, Baalke broke down a handful of plays on each draft pick. But judging by Baalke's enthusiasm, one particular player stole the show.

"He has rare speed for the position," Baalke said as Kaepernick raced away from defenders. The University of Nevada product, selected by the 49ers with the No. 36 overall pick of the draft, has been timed in the 40-yard dash "in the low 4.4s (seconds)," Baalke said.

"He has rare stature," Baalke said as Kaepernick stood strong against charging defenders in a game against Cal, completing a pass as the pocket collapsed around him. "He's able to stand in the pocket and not be bothered by the pressure around him. You have to be mentally tough and physically tough to make that throw when you know somebody's going to stick you."

At 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, Kaepernick's stature in the pocket is obvious. But there's room for physical growth. "He's at 230 now, but he can get to 240 before it's all said and done," Baalke said.

The GM was just getting started as Kaepernick darted around on the screen.

"His arm strength is unique – he has a big-time arm," Baalke said. "He can overpower a defense with it." And so Kaepernick does, rolling to his left, staring down a defender, then zipping a pass on the money to a target some 20 yards down the field.

"That's very hard to do," Baalke said. "You're running full speed to the opposite side of your arm action, and you're able to throw the ball with velocity and accuracy."

Flushed from the pocket, going to his left, with a defender about to do a radar-locked-missile number on him, Kaepernick doesn't have time to set his feet and has to improvise and deliver the ball at three-quarters sidearm. But he still completes the pass for a first down.

"He's got quick feet in the pocket and then he throws a B.B. even though he never gets his shoulders squared down field," Baalke said. "You look for a quarterback who can throw off his back foot, who can change his arm angle."

And can throw on the move, something Kaepernick did a lot of at Reno, where he became the only player in NCAA history to throw for more than 10,000 yards and rush for more than 4,000, numbers that not only reflect Kaepernick's unique ability, but also his skill for making things happen on the fly when plays break down.

"A quarterback has to be able to work through chaos," Baalke said. "If a quarterback can't sort through that, he's not going to make it in the National Football League."

Kaepernick's ability to think, improvise and make plays on the move certainly is what makes him unique and could set him apart at the professional level. He'll be playing in coach Jim Harbaugh's variation of the West Coast offense, and just imagine what a quarterback that is a dual threat as a runner can do in that system: Think Steve Young.

Baalke even suggested the 49ers would implement some plays specifically to take advantage of Kaepernick's ability to tuck the ball under his arm and turn it upfield.

"Who's to say we're not going to have him in the ‘Pistol'?" Baalke said, referring to the wide-open offensive system Kaepernick succeeded in at Reno. "It's going to be an advantage for us to have some quarterback-driven runs in our offense that teams are going to have to prepare for. Those are things that are different than a lot of teams are accustomed to dealing with. You have to deal with it when you play against (Michael) Vick and guys like that."

The essence of Kaepernick and what he can bring to the 49ers, however, appears to be illustrated by an aforementioned play made by the QB during Reno's bowl game last year against Boston College.

Kaepernick drops back and looks left for his first intended target. With that receiver covered, Kaepernick turns to his right, where he sees tight end Virgil Green slipping down the seam. Practically half the Boston College defense is converging on Green, but Kaepernick delivers a strike anyway for a 20-yard completion that gives Nevada a first-and-goal.

So not only does Kaepernick have it all – the size, the arm, the legs, the overall physical talent – but he also had the daring and gambler in him to attempt the game-changing risky plays.

"Do I want him to make that throw?" Baalke said. "Absolutely. I want a guy confident enough to throw it into the defense. Look at his eyes. He came back to his right and threw it over the first line of defense and dropped it into the hole. The whole time, he stood tall in the pocket. This is life in the NFL."

Gee, Trent, anything else you like about Kaepernick?

"He's extremely intelligent," Baalke said. "Very confident. He's a tremendously hard worker. You talk to anybody who has coached him and they talk about the energy that this guy brings. All of those things you can't coach."

Oh, yeah. The things that don't necessarily always show up on film.


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