49ers Blog and Q&A

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April 5, 2011
Kaepernick: Teams don't want to change my delivery

NFL evaluators like draft prospects to have long arms ... with one glaring exception: quarterback. At that position, short arms are preferable because they translate to a quicker, more compact throwing motion.

Colin Kaepernick's arms are nearly 34 inches, giving him one of the longest wingspans - and the most drawn out throwing motion -- of any of the top quarterback prospects in the draft. Indeed, that's been the biggest knock on Kaepernick, at least in the media, in the run-up to the draft - he has an unorthodox delivery.

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Kaepernick has been working with a quarterbacks coach Roger Theder to shorten his whip-like motion, which may stem from background as a high-school pitcher. But he said Tuesday that most of the teams he has met with told him they would not alter his motion if they drafted him. "Almost every coach I've talked to hasn't had a problem with it," he said during a phone conversation. "The general consensus is that I'm still getting it out on time. It just looks different."

A year ago at this time, the NFL world was abuzz about Florida quarterback Tim Tebow's throwing motion. Tuesday on the NFL Network, draft guru Mike Mayock compared Kaepernick to Tebow. "If you thought Tim Tebow was an athlete a year ago, this kid is probably a better athlete," Mayock said. "He's faster. He runs a sub-4.5 (40-yard dash). He's a 6-5 kid with a rifle for an arm. But what I see, and what the quarterback coaches around the league confirm, is that there's a disconnect between his upper body and his lower body - his throwing mechanics. Big arm. Great athlete. Loves the game. But he is a project."

Tebow was drafted 25th overall by the Broncos. Mayock said he didn't think Kaepernick would last beyond the second round. Mayock rates Kaepernick as the draft's seventh-best quarterback behind Blaine Gabbert, Cam Newton, Jake Locker, Ryan Mallett, Christian Ponder and Andy Dalton.

Kaepernick has worked out for 10 teams, including the 49ers, and has visited with others. By now, he has a good sense of what teams are trying to find out about him. He said their biggest question mark was not his throwing motion but the type of offense he ran at Nevada.

"I think a lot of them thought we just ran the option, and when we dropped back it was, 'Alright, we're going to throw to this guy on this play' and that we weren't reading the defense," he said. "So I think a lot of them realize now that's not the case, and that's kind of helped me going forward."

I asked him if he spent a lot of time in front of a white board diagramming plays. He said no, a typical visit instead involved sitting down with offensive coaches and going over film from his games with the Wolf Pack. "Just showing them exactly what we were doing on each play, who we were reading, what our progressions were," he said. "Just kind of going through game situations and explaining it to them."

Kaepernick met with 49ers officials, including coach Jim Harbaugh, on March 18 in Reno. That was an on-field workout, and he has not met with the team in Santa Clara. "We didn't do any film work," he said. "So I think they just wanted to see how I was as a quarterback, how I threw the ball, if I could do a lot of their stuff on timing - things like that."

Harbaugh has said that athleticism and accuracy are his top criteria when it came to choosing a quarterback. Kaepernick ran for 1,206 yards last season and scored 20 touchdowns on the ground. He is the only player in NCAA history with more than 4,000 rushing yards and more than 10,000 passing yards. But the Turlock native is careful to describe himself not as a rushing quarterback but as a quarterback who can extend plays with his feet.

"NFL teams don't need a running quarterback, but they do need someone who can move his feet and extend plays, especially on third downs," he said.

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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