I've never been a big Colin Kaepernick fan. From all I've heard and read, he is a nice young man, although not overly talkative or cooperative with the media. He is certainly talented. He runs with gazelle grace and has a strong throwing arm. The reason I'm not a fan is my problem, not his. I am old school -#8212; some would say ancient school. I find the tattoos, the kissing of the biceps, the backward cap to be upsetting to my traditionalist nature. I suppose the truth is that the game and the players have changed, while I have not.
I am also still bothered by the shabby -#8212; and there is no other way to put it -#8212; treatment coach Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers gave Alex Smith when they replaced him with Kaepernick.
Understand that I am a fan, not a reporter, when it comes to the 49ers. It has been years -#8212; more like decades -#8212; since I last scrummed with the media to gain a scrap of exclusive information or quote in the 49ers' locker room, and even then, it was more a privilege than a job to cover the Niners on an intermittent basis when I worked in Marin County. As a fan, I have followed the 49ers from the days of John Brodie and Gene Washington at Kezar Stadium where spectators' lives were endangered by the saturation bombing by seagulls at game's end, to Candlestick where I invariably suffered from hypothermia by the third quarter.
The point is that, as a fan, I really know very little about NFL football other than what I see on television and what the announcers tell me. I'm no coach, but I do know quite a little bit about high school football. I'm been watching it closely for close to a half century. Professional football is a different world. For example, a high school defensive back would be banished to the chemistry lab for doing the pushing, holding and occasional punching that is routine and unpunished on the pro level.
Not knowing that much about the pro game doesn't disqualify me from observing that Kaepernick doesn't deserve all -#8212; or even most -#8212; of the blame for the 49ers' 23-17 loss to Seattle in the NFC championship game. Yes, it is true he turned the ball over in each of the 49ers' last three possessions, but one of his two interceptions came because the Seattle defender is a giant with the wing span of a Condor and the other was a fluke that really should have been an incompletion had not a bewildered Seattle defender wandered innocently into the ball that had just been swatted away by the talented and obnoxious Richard Sherman.
Like every other fan, my heart went from my throat as the last fatal play unfolded to the pit of my stomach at its outcome. But the truth is that Kaepernick didn't lose the game for the 49ers. It took a team effort. We too often focus on the one big game-ending play, but what about failing to get a touchdown after Aldon Smith's great defensive play gave the 49ers their first possession at the Seattle 15-yard line? What about gaining just 29 rushing yards by players not named Kaepernick despite the offensive line's reputation as one of the best in football? What about not getting a stop on a fourth-and-seven play late in the fourth quarter, and, worse, giving up a touchdown on that play? What about? What about? What about? There were dozens of what abouts that all added up to the end of the 49er season.
Games are not only won or lost on the last play of the game, but can be won or lost on the first play and many plays in between.
I may never be a big fan of Colin Kaepernick, but I am a big fan of the San Francisco/Santa Clara 49ers and my gut tells me if my team is ever going to win a Super Bowl, a goofy looking guy with tattoos and his hat turned backward is the man who will lead us to the Glory Land.
But, what do I know? I'm just a fan.
(Contact John jackson at email@example.com)